This one's from the heart, and it probably will read like a lamentation. Thankfully there are such precedents in the Old Testament, and thankfully some of the psalms allow us to express our frustrations.
As you may have guessed today was another day of not seeing action from God on the horizon. Some days I cope with that better than others. Today isn't one of those days. Today being the feast day of the Church universal (a.k.a. Anniversary of the dedication of the Lateran basilica) was a day for renewed hope that something new and wonderful would start for the little corner of the Church where I live and further afield.
The liturgy this morning, which should have been full of solemnity and prayer for the welfare of the whole church, and thanksgiving for her existence, was a disaster. A green chasuble was only narrowly avoided, two altar candles rather than the requisite 4 (despite a reminder to that effect yesterday) and we only had one reading prior to the Gospel rather than the 'in the rubrics' two. There's a special logic to this feast day being an octave distant from All Souls. 1 Nov we celebrate All Saints as in all the residents of heaven, 2 Nov we celebrate All Souls as in we pray for all the residents of purgatory, and 9 Nov we pray for the Church universal, which includes all the baptised (water, blood and desire), whether they are this side of eternity or the other side.
It wasn't a good start.
And nothing has changed that I am aware of. The telephone is silent. The emails are absent of opportunities, ditto for the social media feeds.
Where is this great and wonderful move of the Spirit of God that we have been promised?
It didn't help that we used Acts 5: 12-21 for lectio divina today. It tells the story of how the apostles and early disciples disrupted the regular temple worship so much that they got arrested and put in prison, and how an angel let them out and told them to keep preaching.
They really did cause a 'holy riot' by gathering in the portico of Solomon in the Temple and praising God loudly (read 'noisily' and 'with lots of shouting') and by drawing to Jerusalem all who were sick because news was getting out that everyone was getting healed, even if only the shadow of St Peter fell upon them. If there was order in this messy chaos, only the Holy Spirit who caused it could see it.
What it most certainly wasn't, was boring!
Yet how would we react if a group marched down the main street of our town shouting and singing God's praises, and healing people's sickness as they passed? How would we react if they came into our Church buildings to join their worship of God to ours? Would we applaud and join them, or would we huddle in a corner and pray fervently that they'd push off to another location as soon as possible?
If it has been the Holy Spirit's modus operandi in the past, are we ready for Him to do it again but on a much larger world-wide scale?
A lot of singing, shouting and healing goes on in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, but usually within church buildings and at conferences, and definitely behind closed doors. But what if a line I read today is true, 'God's charisms weren't just given to be used in meetings, but every day of the week'. What if God wanted what is going on inside those church walls to start happening spontaneously outside those church walls, and not in some secluded place but in places of high pedestrian traffic? Could we see this as the Holy Spirit's work, or would we be calling the police to lock up the weirdos?
Since we're on a roll with scary thoughts, how about this one...What if God wanted you to be a ring leader for such a team of wonder workers?
The chief characteristic of this Acts 5 group was that it was one in heart. It was united in love and in full sync with the Holy Spirit. If we long to see these things in our day, it means that unity has to be a priority and not the 17th thing on a priestly or pastoral agenda after church maintenance, squabbles in the music ministry, seeking more catechists, fixing the printer, what to do about the youth group and visiting the sick etc.
So here I sit, at zero, feeling just how far away we are from those Acts 5 heroes. In the natural I see no way of changing this. But God is God, and He can do the impossible, and more than the impossible. We are talking Pentecost 33AD levels of transformation here.
Such mighty moves of grace don't happen without the preparation of prayer.
Would you commit yourself to praying each day for such a movement of grace?
Would you pray with others, regularly, for the same intention?