Contextual Pneumatology Essay
- Length: 12 pages
- Sources: 6
- Subject: Religion
- Type: Essay
- Paper: #57541948
- Related Topics: God, Love, Sin, Christian
Excerpt from Essay :
The safe group of participants who joined with me in the commitments of the course included four others, all of whom were interested in exploring the realm of pneumatology as a group rather than as a unique individualized experience. Thus, from the outside there was a shared sense of expanding the bandwidth of what counts as a story of the Holy Spirit. First, we discussed what the Holy Spirit is—which was important for us to connect on because by defining what we are experiencing we can erase any misconceptions and give clarity to what might otherwise be opaque. As Leonard points out, the Holy Spirit is not a junior member of the Holy Trinity and is not shy about coming to others. We wanted to discuss what we believed the Holy Spirit to be before beginning so that we could ensure that we were united on the same page. What we discovered was that we wanted the Holy Spirit to lead us in a way of life—not just in a type of moment of animation, such as tongue-speaking. That was a significant sign that we were all in agreement with what Love described when he stated that “the Holy Spirit draws believers into a particular way of life that makes it possible for the leading of the Spirit to be discerned in relation to conditions on the ground” (166). The Holy Spirit was leading us to a new way of life—not just to new experiences disconnected from our life as we currently lived it. We had all formed in a group to discover what this new way of life would be—how the Holy Spirit was ready to guide us and lead us to be closer to Christ.
For that reason it is important to describe the members of the group. I will not use their real names but will describe their particular places in life so that it can be seen how they were connecting with the Holy Spirit. First was Jane. She was 36 and the mother of four children under the age of five. She had just lost her husband and was seeking to renew her faith and wanted help in discerning the way forward. Second was Mike. Mike was 28 and new to the faith. He had been an atheist for most of his life but drug addiction and a stint in jail had opened his eyes. He was now out of prison and sober for one year and wanted to build his relationship with God. He believed the Holy Spirit would help him in this endeavor. Then there was Josh. Josh was 24 and the son of a minister and was looking to discern whether he should follow in his father’s footsteps or make his own way in the world doing something else. Then there was Amber. Amber was 42 and was praying for her sister who was suffering from drug addiction. Amber wanted guidance and reassurance that she was doing the right thing in helping her sister by taking her into her home. She wanted to get her sister involved in the group but she was not sure whether this would be too overwhelming for her sister. She wanted guidance. So everyone in the group had a clear idea of where guidance was needed but they were all open to letting the Holy Spirit take them someplace new even if it was not anticipated by them.
Postures and Practices
The first posture that we talked about was this: “The living God, the risen Christ, and the Holy Spirit are active in leading God’s people” (Love 171). Implicit in this posture is the idea that the Holy Spirit is present and ready to lead those who are ready to follow. It suggests that one need only be open to following the spirit and accepting what God gives as evidence of His will for us all. The group agreed that this was so and therefore we agreed to adopt the first posture in our approach to working with the Holy Spirit to discern the way for ourselves through this life. To set the environment for this posture, I suggested that we all make it a habit to include the Holy Spirit in our daily lives, our thoughts and our prayers by getting into the routine of saying a morning, noonday and evening prayer to the Holy Spirit and making tiny prayers throughout the day to invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts. By keeping a constant focus and reflection on the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, leading us in our daily lives—not necessarily in big ways but rather in being open to what comes our way, we can be begin to sense what it is God is calling us to do with our lives. Whether we begin to feel a great empathy one way or another, or we feel motivated to do something, or we are simply given the grace to hang on for the time being and endure the slow grind of daily life, it is up to us to discern what God’s will is and the Holy Spirit is there to lead us.
I reminded the group that, as Love points out, the Holy Spirit is not primarily here to offer us comfort and encouragement. There are those dry periods—the dark nights of the soul (Tolle)—in which we may feel abandoned by the Holy Spirit because we do not sense His comfort, love or warmth. We feel nothing—and yet that is when we must be extra-mindful to stay in the pursuit: these dark nights are tests to see whether we really mean what we say when we pray that the Holy Spirit guide us. These dark nights may seem like we are lost, but they are really moments when we can tune in completely to God and rely wholly on the Holy Spirit, trusting internally that even though we feel completely lost and abandoned the Holy Spirit is…
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…group felt that this was the best way to look at things and at their place in the community. Even for Josh who was trying to figure out what to do with his life, he felt that by saying yes to life was the best course of action. We all agreed that Josh would eventually figure it out and that things would fall into place for him so long as he just kept on saying yes to life and living in that Spirit of God and accepting what the Holy Spirit sent his way. He wanted to share with us his stories and we listened and we were all edified by what we heard. This was the best part of our group—the sharing of stories because it evoked so much empathy and sympathy and we were all happy to have heard them. The only one who seemed to lack consolation from this practice was Amber: she felt that she could not show the same kind of charity towards her sister that we were describing. She could not say yes to everything because she felt that she would then be used by her sister, who would use her time and faith and support just to go on living a life of substance abuse. She wondered how this could be God’s plan, how she could in good conscious be so accommodating to one whom she knew would just continue to live a life of sin. She wanted to help her sister and save her but she did not want to support her bad habits or become an enabler.
We all struggled to make sense of Amber’s predicament and it was in truth a difficult struggle for all of us. We all wondered how the Holy Spirit guides us in such circumstances: it seems so dark and impossible to know what is the best thing to do—to love the sinner and to see no evil, or to love God and to instruct the sinner and admonish the sinner and do what one believes is best to assist the person in overcoming the sin. When to push, when to pull, when to lead, and when to give—these were the questions that we all struggled to answer: but finally we all agreed that when in doubt, pray—and that was what we recommended to Amber and that is what I recommended that we all do to help us be more united to the Holy Spirit.
Overall, I feel that the whole project has gone very well and that we are each of us getting to know our communities better by simply saying yes to them and joining them in things we never would have thought to be part of before: a sign for a fish fry—we are there. A notice of a community gathering—we are there. An invitation to coach Little League—we are there. Never complaining, never sighing, never expressing impatience, but always acting out of love and integrating ourselves into our communities to show…
Sources Used in Documents:
Leonard, Allen C. Poured Out: The Spirit of God Empowering the Mission of God. ACU Press, 2018.
Love, Mark. It Seemed Good to the Holy Spirit and to Us. Digital file.
Sheen, Fulton. Life of Christ. Martino Fine Books, 2016.
Smith, Christian. "Why Christianity works: An emotions-focused phenomenological account." Sociology of Religion 68, no. 2 (2007): 165-178.
“St Patrick’s Breastplate.” https://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/st-patricks-breastplate.html
Tolle, Eckhart. “Eckhart on the Dark Night of the Soul.” https://www.eckharttolle.com/eckhart-on-the-dark-night-of-the-soul/
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