We all have questions about God, Jesus, what it means to be in community together, how do I do this “open myself to the Holy Spirit” thing... I’ve discovered that learning to ask the right questions is valuable. And just as important as the right question is how we ask it.
Here’s an example: Last year about this time as we were experiencing some significant new energy and began to wonder out loud with the question… “How do we keep this momentum going?” Now that is an important question any time things are going well in any business or in your life. But it’s not the way to ask the right question for a community of faith. Here’s why…the question, how do we keep the momentum going, presumes that there is something very specifically that we are doing. That can be true enough: there are some things we do very well, we are an open, friendly bunch, and we have worked hard to name and claim our identity.
I could go on but many of us believed that all the good things happening at our church are not at the core of why our church was gaining what business books might call momentum and self-help books might call positive energy. And so we began to ask, “What is that?”
As a Christian community we looked into our book, the Bible, and searched for places where other Christian communities experienced something similar. The story in Acts Chapter 2 of the first experience of the Holy Spirit seemed to me to fit our experience. It was unexpected, it came just when it was needed, it affected several different people at the same time and it was powerful enough to be life transforming.
Next I thought and thought and talked and talked and talked and talked (I’m a verbal processor) until finally between Don and Deb and others we figured it out. Our question, “How do we keep this momentum…this new energy going,” did not really get to what a Christian Community needs to ask, at least based on Acts Chapter 2. If we trust the witness of Acts Chapter 2, the question becomes… “How do we continue to open ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit?” And that is how we came up with this theme, this question we are exploring all year long here at EPUMC.
Asking the right questions in the context of our faith perspective I believe helps us add God’s presence and power and grace to the equation. In many ways I’ve come to believe this is my role as the pastor of this Christian community… to listen to the real, genuine, authentic questions people like you are asking about the world, their lives… not to mention things like time and eternity and translate them into the context of our faith’s perspective.
For the past three years, I’ve been listening to the questions you have been asking. Questions like “How do we keep this momentum going?” from last year. As we approach the middle of this year, I want to hear your questions about our life together and your life in faith to begin to consider what is the real… genuine… right for us… question to consider as a community of faith next year.
With this in mind, I’m hopeful that many of you will respond to this email or catch me at fellowship time or even set up a time for the two of us to chat about a question that your soul is pondering. Don’t worry about how well it is stated… Don’t worry if it doesn’t have any “faith perspective language” attached to it. Don’t worry if you need to ramble on to get to your real question…we verbal processors understand how valuable rambling can be.
I believe our questions are crucial. For when we live out of, live into, our real questions with the guidance of the scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and each other, we come to experience something of God’s kind of time as these questions are if not answered, then at least revealed, as needed.
Keep the Faith,