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The Basin and Towel

with Indispensable Churches and Tending the Light

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Holy Spirit

Yep. He was there, too!

So here was where I saw the Holy Spirit at our District Convention last weekend:

  • In the Sacrament of Holy Communion, as delegates and friends gathered around the forgiveness of sins in that wonderful meal of Jesus
  • In the reunions of old friends and acquaintances, called together again by the Spirit who calls together the whole church on earth
  • In His creation of new community with the addition of new people who’ve never been to one of our conventions, like our own lay delegate who not only learned about the business of the District but quickly made friends with a number of people she’s never met
  • In worship, in meals, in business, in committee meetings . . .
  • In the traditional Slovak worship service.  We almost always have one at our conventions, at least for auld lang syne, even though few of our folks speak Slovak anymore.  I don’t myself, although I can sing it and follow the liturgy.  Still, even the presence of those who don’t have a clue in that service alongside those who are still fluent models the work of the Spirit in bringing the whole Church on earth together around Jesus, centered in His Word, celebrating His Sacrament together in love.  And the insight from one of my totally non-Slovak speaking brothers that now he could understand a bit of what tiny children in English worship services might feel like, as they have no understanding of what is going on – an insight which may  help several of us look at our worship services in a new light.
  • In the “mutual conversation and consolation” of the brothers and sisters in Christ, in a District in which we truly are not enemies with one another but friends, coworkers in the Gospel, and beloved in the Lord.

Yes, the Holy Spirit was there with us.  Thank You, Spirit, for all Your presence throughout the weekend!

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Convention, Conference, and other Inconveniences

I’m leaving today for our District Convention.  Some of my friends refer to this kind of gathering as Annual Conference, and others by who knows what name.  Our advantage is that this only happens once every three years rather than annually.

This will be the eleventh time (I think) I will have been to a District Convention in my 30 years of ministry.  Most of them have mostly been enjoyable, but not because we “accomplished a lot.”  The enjoyable part comes with the fellowship, the renewed friendships, the laughter, the hugs and smiles.  The enjoyable part comes with eating together and worshiping together, lifting our voices loudly in hymns and songs, and tearfully singing “God be with you till we meet again” as the closing hymn of all.  It is because of all these things, I think, that some of us endure the reports, the resolutions, and all that other stuff.

Because the “business” of a Convention or Conference or whatever you want to call it is what we bring to it – we human beings, with our god-like penchant for trying to bring order to chaos, trying to understand the wondrous, and trying to make sense out of the mystical.  Underneath or over or around all the “business” is the chaos and wonder and mysticism of the Holy Spirit who always “calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth” (as Luther said) – even in Conventions and Conferences and other business-like Inconveniences.

So as I go off to our Convention – and as you go off to yours, whatever it’s called – be on the lookout for the work of the Holy Spirit.  He won’t be on the list of delegates or alternates or guests or vendors, but He will be the one you definitely want to see while you’re there.

Mark 3:20-30 – The sin against the Holy Spirit?

A post from The Formational Pastor

For June 10, 2012 (Proper 5 / Second Sunday after Pentecost)

The against the Holy Spirit is said by Jesus to be the one sin that is unforgivable.  But why?

The classic answer is that it involves stubborn and persistent resistance to the work of the Holy Spirit, resulting in terminal unbelief for the individual.  But that’s only one aspect of this sin.  There are at least two more, which we might infer from the rest of the story.

Aspect #2:  Imagine you are one of the crowd sitting around Jesus, hearing this exchange.  Imagine you are someone from whom He has cast out demons – maybe Mary Magdalene, from whom He cast out seven demons.  Your life has been turned upside down – you’ve been totally transformed – and now all you want to do is to follow this Jesus and devote everything you are and have to Him in love.  Now there come some people from Jerusalem and say to you, in effect, “The demons you had were like some gang of local punks, but this Jesus is the head of a ruthless cartel.”  Would that shake your faith foundation?  Would that cause you to doubt or wonder?  Whether it would or not, that kind of tactic from those men has no other purpose than to undermine your faith in Jesus, and that is part two of the sin against the Holy Spirit who has been working hard to strengthen that faith day by day.  Empowered living, lies and distortions, re-wounding

Aspect #3:  The fact that Jesus begins His response to these men by saying “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand” means that He views this not simply as an issue of personal faith, but ultimately as an issue involving the clash of the Kingdom of Heaven with the kingdom of Satan.

Formational Prayer and the Holy Spirit

Dear friends in Christ,

 

I rejoice with our gracious God that you all made it to Ashland for the Summer Intensive and the Formational Prayer Seminar this week!  I know that some of you had some struggles to get here, and some issues that caused you to wonder about the wisdom of leaving home for a week.  So did I!  But look how wonderfully gracious our heavenly Father has been to us already!  

 

How He has sent the Holy Spirit among us already yesterday and today!  The Holy Spirit has called us together and gathered us in this place.  You and I made some decisions to be here, and some plans about how to get here, but it was the Spirit who called us to be here.  He gathered us by road and air, by car and airplane.  He stood in the way of our obstacles, and perhaps for some of us He even pushed us through those obstacles.  He has been building us into His community of healers on the healing journey, and we are eager to be present with Him this week as He works on some wondrous healings that we know He has in store for many of our participants.

 

And I think He has already begun some of the healing that you may have needed as you came.  Perhaps it hasn’t been a spectacular healing; perhaps it’s only been little by comparison even with some healings you’ve experienced in the past.  But I believe that He has already touched your life and your heart and your spirit in ways that you have needed, whether you knew it or not.  And I pray that throughout this week He will remind you again and again how precious you are to Him, how wonderful you are in His sight, and how much He yearns for your complete healing and total joy in His presence.

 

May you feel some of that joy this week!

 

Chris Cahill

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