Sunday, June 12, 2011

Living the Spirit

What a fantastic day! Jeff Lee, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago, preached and presided at my parish, St Paul and the Redeemer, for Pentecost. The liturgy was so joyous and full of the Holy Spirit. The music unbelievably powerful--Gospel and jazz, along with the dignity of the ancient liturgy. It simply worked, and worked well. The Episcopalians at SPR are not God's Frozen Chosen, but are on fire with being Christians!

Jeff spoke of "quasi Christians," those of us who attend church, get involved, and love God, but who are, nevertheless, skeptical of things as well. This is a wonderful thing, as opposed to those who are absolutely certain about everything; if you have no doubt, or never had doubts, how can you have genuine faith? The bishop reminded us that the opposite of faith, is not unbelief, but certainty.

When we think we have battened down the hatches with precise definitions and formulae, we have deluded ourselves, creating idols that stand in the way of Truth. Buddha was right when he said to experience things for ourselves rather than accept blindly. Isn't it better to stand in the midst of Mystery and allow it to be just that? The Holy Spirit bloweth where She listeth, not where we think she should go; we Christians do not have a monopoly on the Beloved.

But do we just jettison the Creed? Absolutely not, but we acknowledge that it's "a love song," to quote the bishop, and that many of us are skeptical of some of its contents, or at least the way it states them. I have long said that creeds and doctrines are springboards into that deep Reality that we call God, not the Reality itself. We need to look to what they point, not get stuck in them. That's one of the reasons we sing, not chant or recite, the Creed at SPR.

It seems to me that many are afraid of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, preferring instead to hide behind the defense of illusory walls to "defend" the Faith. The Faith's just fine if we're willing to let go and live it...

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