The energy, the vitality that has launched us forward is the Holy Spirit. The message of 2017 is that we do not need to figure out how to maintain this momentum, we need to continue to be open to the energy of the Holy Spirit, to trust it and now in 2018 to anticipate it.
Anticipating that the uncontrollable, change effecting, comforting energy of God is going to show up in our lives sounds a bit presumptuous. It sounds presumptuous because it is.This however is the message Jesus came to deliver. We can expect God to show up and when we begin expecting or anticipating that God is going to show up we begin to see our lives, we begin to see the world in a new way.
Anticipating is a tricky business. It can lead to confusion and disappointment. A lot of us have known a time when we anticipated the presence of God to come in a place and time in our life to heal a relationship, to cure an illness, to provide what is needed. And then when the relationship lies in tatters and the disease progresses and we are left humbled and afraid...what then of anticipating God’s presences?
The answer most religious folks give is that either we were anticipating something other than what God had in mind or that the energy and presence we seek is to be found in the confusion and disappointment. I get that. I’ve even preached it more than a few times. I believe it. What I also get but have not ever preached is that when I run up against confusion and disappointment, I also usually stop anticipating.
This year one of the important things we are going to explore is how to keep anticipating, how to keep looking for the new life of God, how to anticipate God’s presence in our questions and failures as much as, if not more than, in our answers and successes. We are going to be looking at different symbols, object lessons, conversations Jesus uses to say this same thing over and over and over in the Gospel of John.
From my balcony view, I’ve seen this happen time and time again in the last three years at EPUMC. And what I’ve seen is that when we see our challenges as an invitation to experience God’s presence, we respond in a different way. We respond not out of fear and frustration, but in hope and well… faith. This is why I feel so strongly about looking at our issues and problems in a different way…they are challenges we are facing together from a sense of the vitality God has provided. The key word alteration here is not cleverly changing words like issues and problems to “challenges.” The key is accepting, recognizing and claiming that we are a congregation that is presumptions enough to think that God has blown into our lives and filled us with the Holy Spirit.
What would that look like in your life? What would it be like to anticipate, to look first for the energy of the Holy Spirit in your life? That is what I mean when I’m inviting us to see our lives together in a new way. I’m looking forward to even anticipating the great things we will find together.
Keep the Faith,