s w o l B d n i w e s e tH H s i w t i e r e H w
ANiSA /// ISSUE 6
A LIFE IN STEP WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
IN THIS ISSUE /// EDITORIAL THE HOLY SPIRIT AND ME: CONFESSIONS OF A “LAPSED” PENTECOSTAL /// by. Tony Balcomb BLOWN BY THE WIND /// by. April Towner LEADING INTO TRUTH /// by. Grant Stewart GATHERED BY THE WIND /// by. Karabo Rajuili THE UNIQUE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT /// by. Andrew Suderman NEW KIND OF POWER: THE POLITICS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT /// by. Mzwandile Nkutha THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD /// by. Ryan Peter REFLECTIONS ON LUKE 4 /// by. Skhumbuzo Zuma BLOWN AWAY /// by. Ken Jefferson FALLING INTO STEP: RESOURCES FOR THE JOURNEY ANiSA LIBRARY, READERS RESPONS & A READERS E-ZINE
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WHAT IS ANiSA? The Anabaptist Network in South Africa is a network of people, churches and organizations that together explore and embrace a radical faith in Jesus Christ that is nourished by the example found within the Anabaptist movement. In wanting to be authentically rooted in Christâ€™s peace and justice for all people we seek to walk with, support, and nurture communities of peace, justice, and reconciliation.
WHY THE E-ZINE? The purpose of the ANiSA ezine is to agitate, provoke, challenge, and nurture peopleâ€™s thinking and imaginations as we explore and wrestle with what it mease to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the South African context.
DISCLAIMER The ANiSA ezine seeks to provide a variety of opinions relating to faith, theology, politics, culture, peace and justice. Opinions expressed in this ezine do not necessarily represent the position of ANiSA.
LAYOUT, PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN /// Karen Suderman COVER ART PROVIDED BY /// Marco Debiasi
EDITORIAL: ARE WE WILLING TO WALK IN STEP WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?
by Andrew Suderman
In Christian circles a lot is claimed on behalf of the Holy Spirit. We hear, and perhaps say, that the Holy Spirit has descended upon us, filled us with its fire and burning passion for God, or has anointed us as heirs of God’s kingdom through our belief in Jesus the Christ. And yet, there seems to be a significant disconnect from what is said and claimed regarding the Holy Spirit and the way it manifests in our life from the example that Jesus set and the ways he taught us to live. A disconnect has become increasingly apparent between our claims to be Spirit filled from the ways – the ways of Jesus – the Spirit would help us walk. Although we as Christians believe that Jesus and the Spirit are two particular expressions or persons of the one God, thus sharing in the divine character in which we also are invited to participate, we have, unfortunately, differentiated between the ways of Jesus from the presence of the Holy Spirit. We claim to be Spirit filled and Spirit led but sit idly by while injustice and violence decimate lives. We claim to be Spirit filled but fail to tirelessly pursue the justice that peace requires. We claim to have known the presence of the Spirit but fail to recognize the harm we ourselves cause and the work that needs to be done in order for there to be true reconciliation. We claim to have been touched by the Spirit but the church continues to splinter. We claim to be touched by the Spirit’s flame but find it difficult to embody God’s counter-cultural kingdom in the here-and-now.
And yet we have been promised that the Holy Spirit has been gifted to us, leading us, if we are willing, in the ways of Jesus. We have been granted the gift of God continuing to be with us so that we can be made whole – reconciled – in our relationships with God, with one another, and with creation, thereby witnessing to God’s kingdom. And there are times when we can assuredly say “this was of God!” or “surely this was the Spirit at work in our lives!” What a gift this is! And so, what does it mean to live in step with the Holy Spirit today? What are the implications of this decision? Are we willing to accept where the Spirit may lead? This issue wrestles with these (and other) questions.
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND ME: CONFESSIONS OF A “LAPSED” PENTECOSTAL by Tony Balcomb
I was a minister in a Pentecostal church for some fifteen years. This followed a crisis conversion in my second year at university, my subsequent baptism in water (by full immersion) and baptism in the Holy Spirit under the ministry of David du Plessis, the well known Apostolic Faith Mission pastor who felt called by God to bring the message of ‘Holy Spirit baptism’ to those outside the Pentecostal fold. Although I completed my degree in biological sciences I had only one passion in life, and that was to serve God in full time ministry. I joined a working class Pentecostal church (I was the only person with a university education in the church) and exercised my ministry in the local assembly which believed that God gave gifts to people for the work of the ministry in line with Ephesians 4. Formal theological education was frowned upon. The Holy Spirit would teach and empower you for God’s work; there were sixty six books in God’s library – the name of the first was Genesis and the name of the last was Revelation; the Second Coming was imminent. For the first five years in the ministry I read nothing but the Bible. I left the Pentecostal church in 1984 just before the apartheid government called the first state of emergency. I had a wife and four children and was without a job. Something had happened that was as life-transforming as my conversion and Spirit baptism. I had come face to face with the reality that, as a white South African, I was living in a totally different country to that experienced by blacks. I had made the mistake, at least as far as my white congregation was concerned, of getting too close to fellow believers in the church who lived on the other side of the apartheid chasm. It began to dawn on me, gradually at first but then with the force of a sledgehammer, that I and my fellow white believers had been profoundly mistaken in
thinking that our understanding of the truth about South Africa was the only one. But how could this be if the Holy Spirit had been leading us all this time? Was it not the work of the Holy Spirit to lead us into ALL truth, as we believed? And, if so, how was it that the Spirit had failed to lead us into all the truth about South Africa? These are profoundly disturbing questions for a Pentecostal. Similar, perhaps, to the kinds of questions that Saul of Tarsus must have been asking after his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. How, he must have asked himself over and over again, could he have been so wrong? The question for me, however, was made all the more acute by the fact that the issue at stake was not about something theologically esoteric – such as the truth about the nature of Christ, the workings of the trinity, or the means of salvation. It was far more mundane and materialistic than these things. It had simply to do with my understanding of the way that everyday life in South Africa was structured and organised. Why whites had far more access to resources than blacks; why my children could go to a good school and my black brother’s children could not. These were questions that, as Pentecostals, we were never encouraged to ask - even though they were obvious to many people apparently far less spiritual than we were. A major turning point in my relationship with the Pentecostal church came when I attended a charismatic conference with a non-white friend. We booked ourselves into a caravan park where many of the other conference delegates were staying. When the owner of the caravan park discovered that my friend was not white (in fact he was a socalled “coloured” or person of mixed race) he ordered us out of the park, giving us ten minutes to leave. I was summoned to his office like a naughty schoolboy and given a scolding. “How dare you bring a black man into my caravan park?” were his exact words. I was devastated. My friend simply shrugged his shoulders and said that this was the kind of thing that happened to him every day. I went straight to the leaders of the conference and told them what had happened, suggesting that the rest of the conference delegates should leave the park in solidarity with us. I was told that I should have known better than to take a ‘non-white’ with me into the park without first seeking permission. Such an act of blatant injustice would not be countenanced in the ‘New South Africa’ but in those days (I am talking about the early eighties) it was
commonplace. The most shocking aspect of the entire episode was the fact that my Spirit-filled brothers and sisters at the conference could apparently see no contradiction between what had happened and the basic tenets of their faith. In looking back at what happened I realize now that, theologically, there was no other single event that had such a traumatic effect on my life. I could, from that moment on, no longer call myself a Pentecostal. What had for me become a matter of such importance that to negate it was to negate the faith seemed of little or no importance to my fellow Pentecostal believers. This is what constituted the fundamental trauma that my faith was undergoing at the time. I have no reason to doubt that the Holy Spirit was leading me at the time in the direction that I was to go. The question is why He was not leading my fellow brothers and sisters in the same direction. But the same could be asked of God’s children throughout the history of God’s dealings with humankind. Luther might have asked himself the same question of his compatriots in the Catholic Church. To negate what he had become convinced of would be, for him, to negate the faith. He had to say that he could “do no other” than to stand by his convictions, whatever the consequences. So the Holy Spirit led me out of the Pentecostal fold even though there are many things that I continue to identify with in that tradition, or the particular version of the tradition in which I was spiritually nurtured. I will forever cherish the dependence on the Holy Spirit as opposed to dependence on one’s own strength or education, as I will the expectation and hope that emerges out of a life led by the Holy Spirit. There was truly a profound sense of equality among the believers as we gathered for worship and to break bread. There was no split between clergy and laity; there was a genuine belief that the gifts of the Spirit were distributed through the entire body of Christ; when we waited on the Spirit to lead us in worship the expectation of hearing from God was truly intense. There was always something much bigger than oneself that was happening in one’s life. The Spirit could always lead in ways that were surprising and wonderful, even though at the time mystifying. But, I discovered, there were very distinctive ‘keep out’ signs that had been erected where the Holy Spirit was not allowed to lead you. One of these
was the whole arena of human rights: to enter this terrain was considered worldly and an indication that one had departed from God’s way and entered the ‘ways of the world.’ The fact that the teachings of Jesus are so extraordinarily biased towards the poor continues to go unnoticed within the Pentecostal fold, as far as I can make out. Erstwhile friends, colleagues, and family members within what may be called ‘the fold of the Holy Spirit’ (and here I include the broader charismatic and independent church traditions) continue to espouse values of the kingdom of God that do not seem to valorise the essential teachings of Jesus regarding how we live and conduct our lives in relation to the poor, oppressed, and abused of this world. They continue not to see the radical demands that the gospel makes on our lives with respect to an alternative lifestyle, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the environment. They continue to seek for the Holy Spirit not among the poor and destitute but amongst the rich and prosperous. They look for Him not in the mundane and ordinary but in the spectacular, miraculous, and novel. Unfortunately, such an approach to the Holy Spirit simply reinforces middle class values. We are in desperate need to find another way of being led by the Spirit.
BLOWN BY THE WIND
shape our world through order and scheduled predictability. We want to reduce risk and eliminate as many variables as possible. On the other hand, we welcome surprises that amuse. We like the wind in its lulling balmy breezes and unpredictability for entertainment.
“The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man? They asked. Even the winds and waves obey him!” Matthew 8:27
Do we understand the wind better than people in ancient times because we have science? At least science has given us a vocabulary to describe our experience of the natural phenomena of wind. Luke 12:56 retorts “ You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.
by April Towner
Ebola. Isis. Boko Haram. Oscar Pistorius. Climate change. Poverty. Crime. The latest iteration of the iPhone. Google glass. Wind changes and moves in all four directions. It creates disorder and chaos by uprooting planted things and disturbing predictability. How do we live out peace? How do we find peace while headlines declare the sky is falling? How do we find peace when we can’t control the wind? We can either stand afar from the surf or we can leave land and engage the waves, the deep. “Jesus asked him to put the boat out into the water a little way from the land. Then he sat down in the boat and taught the people. When he stopped talking, he said to Simon, ‘Put the boat out into deep water and let down your nets to catch some fish.” Luke 5:3-4 Wind stirs faith. It is the context of faith. By definition, wind is “the perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a particular direction.” ‘Wind’ in scripture has represented God’s judgment, rescue, and revelation of himself. The pairing of wind and faith work because wind is not typically seen. It is not perceived with the eye but by other senses that confirm its presence: touch, hearing and to some extent smell. When formidable winds hit us they stir fear or faith, invitation or alienation. Matthew 14:24-30 demonstrates this in the disciples’ responses to their situation. God reveals himself in the storm. He rescues us from and delivers us through the wind. In Acts 26-28 God employs strong winds to guide the course of the ship – albeit towards shipwreck. “So let go my soul, and trust in him. The waves and wind still know his name.” –Bethel Music, “It is Well” In my journey over the last five plus years, I have been able to let go and trust in him. We tend to
As I have ambled [stumbled?] through death, grief, and new beginnings, I have learned that my actions were counter-cultural for ‘good’ Christians. ‘Good’ Christians fearfully huddle in the boat waiting for the wind to cease and for Jesus to come. Compelled by his voice, other Christians leave the boat to come to him on the waves and in the wind. Thus, when I consider the wind, I think of its synonym and its antonym: its “NOT” affirms its “IS.” The wind thrusts these words on my mind: uncontrolled, uncertain, invisible, movement, change, presence, sovereign. Wind evinces God, his presence and sovereignty. Wind is invisible but has an undeniable presence. Wind reminds us of our powerlessness. Wind is dynamic and turbulent. We cannot control it—at best we hope to take advantage of its movements and use its movement to aid our movement and transport. “But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart” Jonah 1:4 I also think of wind as resistance. I have often wished it were not there. I like challenges but don’t want resistance. “Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” Matthew 14:24 The winds buffeting me are simultaneously external and internal. The path to peace, however, remains constant irrespective of the direction and source of the wind: it is Immanuel, God’s presence. His presence, his love, is the rudder to navigate the storm, the winds. Peace is the movement of God’s presence from inward to outward
in a metaphysically steady state. The wind erratically propels us along his lines of longitude and latitude. In Western cultures, we like linearity. The wind however does not blow in a straight line: its movement is circular. Acts 27:14 “But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a northeaster) burst across the island and blew us out to sea.” Almost six years ago, I left home, structure, stability, knowing and certainty, to be with my best friend who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Distraught, I had left planning to assess the situation and comprehend the implications of my commitment: I had made a promise. I arrived and was relieved to see her. She died 12 days later. She had asked me to adopt her son. I said yes. I had no plan or knowhow… I only knew I had to. Her illness was the wind. The second wind was that within when I knew she was going to die and I could not save her. Suddenly I was a spirituallyinept magic cowboy who could not lasso sickness, nor compel God. This was my first lesson in powerlessness. I just held on and it hurt—like a sandstorm on exposed skin. The jarring awareness that I was powerless terrified me, the uncovering of faith as a magic fallacy chafed. God was suddenly scary because anything could happen; I did not know what to expect. Order and predictability vanished. But the grace of the catholic faith enabled me to lift my eyes from grief to Jesus. He anchored me in the turbulence. I had no answers for myself. I asked for daily bread to mother the child my friend had bequeathed. I sank in the reality of grief and unanswered questions when I stared down. And I learned to look up and live. Then there was uncertainty. The cure to powerlessness is to establish certainty but, bereft and disarmed, I could not establish external certainty. I could not find land and the boat had moved. I retreated to trust in God’s nature rather than his activities or purposes. Resolute to fulfill my vow to God, my promise to my friend, I was unwilling to be deterred. I was also afraid. This was not gallant will. This was collywobbles and resuscitating grace. I trusted him to enable me to do it. I felt vulnerable because I discovered that I could not rely on Him for an outcome, whether success or failure. Instead, I depended on him to bear the difficulty and persevere. Fearing less. Letting go of what I see because sight seduces us to seek shel-
ter. Peter exhibited courage and humility when he asked Jesus to call him to him. He did not ask from bravado but out of a sincere yearning to find shelter and safety in Christ. His desire led him to risk. “Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:31 Wind is untamed and undomesticated yet it is an integral part of transportation. We can’t control the wind but when we relinquish its control and deploy a rudder then wind provides energy and facilitates travel—by airplane, ship, and car. Wind embodies change. “Meaningless, chasing after the wind” yells futility and frustration. Yet, within the same passage sprouts hope. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” So, what is the solution? Expect the unexpected. Find peace in the storm. Peace does not derive from the absence of wind or turbulence, but from presence. Jesus was asleep on the boat when a storm came upon them. The nature of wind is change. Wind is mystery and unknowing. Wind often unsettles and relocates. By contrast, we hunger for permanence, eternity. We must hunger rightly, seeking eternal permanence rather than shift from shelter to shelter in the temporal. “When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.” Matthew 14:32 Welcome resistance or risk lax faith. “When a light wind began blowing from the south, the sailors thought they could make it… but the weather changed abruptly.” Acts 27:13-14 The wind is an invitation to travel, experiencing Emmanuel as shelter, requiring courage and humility. In this way we find permanence; the eternity placed in our hearts by God with occasional glimpses of the scope of his work as we agree to move place-to-place, anchored in him. Wind is wilderness where we tabernacle as a moving temple, a living body in Christ. “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human
heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of Godâ€™s work from beginning to end.â€? Ecclesiastes 3:11 Expect the unexpected, expect the wind and cling to his presence. Emmanuel.
LEADING INTO TRUTH
the Spirit’s leading – and that is a dangerous place, the place of itchy ears! Being guided into ‘all the truth’ is not the way of ease and comfort, otherwise more of us would do it. It is though, paradoxically, the way of rest. Jesus did say that narrow is the path that leads to life.
“When the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all the truth”
This guidance is so important because we live in a country, and a world, that is under the cosh from the consequences and impact of the past and the related choices of the present. We wake up to high levels of violence, poverty, inequality, disease; we wake up to injustice. What does the Spirit’s “guiding into all the truth” look like? What is the place of hearing and obeying? This will be different for each of us.
by Grant Stewart
Truth can be discomforting and it can shake and shatter. Truth can also refine, strengthen and encourage. Truth, though, cannot be owned. We certainly like to think we can own it. At that juncture we no longer need to be led or guided; rather the apparent leading of the Spirit is that of affirmation. In other words, we hear what we want to hear. There’s nothing new about that. In Jeremiah’s day there was “peace, peace when there is no peace.” A few centuries later Paul, in his letter to Timothy, states “For the time will come when...they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” It’s not that the Spirit does not affirm but when the Spirit’s ‘leading’ is only affirming, that should be a flashing red light that things are not right. This is not about relative truth but, rather, that my knowledge of the truth is deeply influenced by my culture, class, experience and taught theology. Therefore we always need to be guided into all the truth; we really do need the Spirit of truth. That’s where the edge is; that’s where the prophetic lies. And I don’t think that it ever truly becomes comfortable! “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 To be guided we need to be listening and responding to the Holy Spirit, for knowing is not merely an intellectual pursuit. In Scripture, to hear is to obey. My hearing is demonstrated by my response. The more I hear and obey, the more attuned and sensitive I become to the leading of the Spirit. However, if I hear but don’t respond I become hard (of hearing!). The writer to the Hebrews warns about that: “As the Holy Spirit says, ‘today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion’...I said ‘Their hearts are always going astray and they have not known my ways...they will not enter my rest” If he leads but we do not respond, eventually we will no longer be able to discern
Some thoughts and reflections: • As a white person there is the reality of my privilege and the way that it maintains the injustice of the past. But often I want to duck out of that, justify myself, perhaps even claim that it doesn’t apply to me - after all I did marry across the line! Am I willing to stare into the mirror of my whiteness and allow the Spirit to speak truth, whatever that may be, and wherever that may be? • As a man there is facing the truth of the high levels of violence against women and children (not forgetting against other men as well). Am I willing to face up to how complicit I might be in this violence, due to my action or inaction? • As a middle-class person, am I willing to allow the Spirit to lead me into an awareness of the level of my allegiance to consumerism, materialism, debt, greed and the pursuit of riches? And how that allegiance feeds a system of global oppression? How is the Spirit asking me to live justly, simply and generously? • What are the places of truth that the Spirit of truth might be guiding you into? Where are you resistant? How can you be quicker to respond? As we face up and are guided into truth we will be responding in one of three ways. If the truth convicts us then we respond with repentance. If we are led into a fuller picture of the Kingdom of heaven then we are to be proclaiming it and demonstrating it (there should always be demonstration with proclamation!). If the truth is about
what God wants to do in specific situations or contexts then we intercede, seeking to pray back to God what He has said he wants to do. Truth is not ours to own, but to follow and/or be guided into. We donâ€™t have to fear it, for the way of the Spirit is the way of rest. We do need to know, though, that since the way of the Spirit is in conflict with the ways of this world it will almost always be discomforting. This not a bad thing since it reminds us that the kingdoms of this world are not yet the Kingdom of our God and therefore that freedom does not reign. May the Spirit of truth guide us into all the truth, however difficult or challenging that might be. ///
GATHERED BY THE WIND by Karabo Rajuili
Gathered: 1. Come together; assemble or accumulate. “as soon as a crowd gathered, the police came” synonyms: congregate, convene, assemble, meet, collect, come/get together, muster, rally, converge; 2. Bring together and take in from scattered places or sources. “information that we have gathered about people” synonyms: collect, get together, put together, accumulate, amass, assemble, garner; store, stockpile, heap up, pile up, stack up, hoard, put by, Winter this year found me back in the Mother City, and the trains have become a part of both my daily commute and the commune with my own thoughts, while being a part of and witness to the daily travellers. The random assemblage of a diversity of people, appearing to have little in common besides the shared train carriages strikes me: the student hunched over last minute notes before a test, the animated conversation between two work colleagues, the awkward forced embrace of the densely packed late afternoon ride, or the two ‘mercy’ singers: one partially blind being led by the other through the carriages, shaking their cup loosely filled with coins, while singing of the faithfulness of God. That our collective commute would cause us to be gathered in a common direction must surely be a moment for pause. We are so unaware, unconcerned, and unmoved by sheer miracles of circumstance, of choice and providences that are at work for any group to be formed in the same place and time. But for a few interruptions, the wonder goes mostly unnoticed as mundane part of life. “And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spoke...” Jesus drew people to himself out of
their curiosity, their desire for renewed hope or a desperate need for a miracle. As we wrestle in our scattered places, many things have the ability to pull us apart – to make the possibility of coming together seem impossible. In these times, perhaps not so unlike my fellow train pilgrims, we are more prone to dismiss and overlook the remarkable details and the depth of the love-soaked sacrifice that holds us together. We have been gathered by the Cross and, in unrelenting tender pursuit, we are being woven by the winds of the one Holy Spirit who is blowing us fearlessly, purposefully and beautifully together. May we be beholden again, in yielding sensitivity, to this wonder.
THE UNIQUE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
pire to define certain concepts and roles. This is the basic tenet of Christendom – the bed in which both the church and state or empire entered. And it is this Christendom paradigm that has shaped the imagination of the church throughout much of its history. As a result, the church, and the Christian tradition in general, have become implicated in the oppressive and violent exploitation enacted through colonialism and the empire’s ongoing desire to conquer and dominate.
Throughout history, we have come to understand power in a particular way. Power is usually understood as:
But, is the way in which empire understands power, which therefore affects its practices and way of being in the world, the same understanding of power that we find embodied by Jesus and poured out through the Holy Spirit?
by Andrew Suderman
- the ability to cause something to happen; - the ability to influence the actions and thoughts of others, often in an attempt to have others think or behave like you or the way you would like; - the ability to rule over others, enforcing a particular way of being or social order. To have power, therefore, is often seen as an advantage as it allows you to cause and make things turn out the way you want or the way you think something should be. We have come to assume that in order to accomplish the above, namely to make something happen, influence others, and to rule others, one must be (and therefore one must seek to be) in places of influence and authority – i.e., in places of “power”. For this reason it is quite common for people to want to be either “in power” or close to those who “have power” so as to be able to influence outcomes. Because of this assumption, the Christian Church has for much of its history sought and enjoyed a close relationship with “the powers” – i.e., the empire or state. This symbiotic relationship between the church and state has at times been known as ‘Christendom.’ The introduction of Christendom in Christianity created a shift from being a small, persecuted minority to becoming the official religion of the empire. This new relationship caused several changes within the church, one of which was its understanding of power. The church, in its willingness to be the handmaiden of the empire, adopted the empire’s understanding of power. It has also assumed empire interests as part of its own interest and allowed the em-
The promise that Jesus makes to his disciples in the beginning of Acts helps us wrestle with an alternative form and understanding of power, one that emerges from the biblical narrative. Acts 1:4-8: And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. The disciples were anxious. When will the power to influence, to shape and determine society, and to rule be returned to Israel? Their hopes were dashed once already when their leader was killed on a cross. But now he has returned! What a miraculous event! Surely now, they believed, the time has come! What they did not realize, however, is the nature of the power that Jesus embodied.
Jesus promises that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit descends upon them. This we know happens a chapter later, in Acts 2. Power, Jesus promises, will come when the Holy Spirit arrives at Pentecost. We, like the early disciples, still assume that we will receive power to influence, shape and determine society – even, perhaps, to rule. Like the disciples, we often misunderstand the different nature of power that the disciples – and all followers of Jesus since – have received. Jesus promises that we “shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Mt in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The word translated here as “witnesses” is the Greek word μαρτυς (martus), the same word that would later be used to describe those who would die because of their faith – i.e., martyrs. Of all the derivatives of martyrion (μαρτυριον), martus is the form most often used in the book of Acts (13 times). Although martus at first meant ‘to give witness to’ or ‘to testify’ and was not necessarily connected to death, it is significant that in a very short period of time – between 10 to 30 years (depending on whether the book of Acts was written in the early 60’s or in the 80’s) – martus became associated with death and martyrdom. Already in the book of Acts, for example, we are told about Stephen who becomes the first martyr. Others soon meet the same fate – Peter, Paul, and countless others in the early church. Christian faith and being a ‘witness’ to Jesus Christ becomes closely associated with martyrdom in the early years of the church. The bodies of the early Christians were, in a very literal way, given as a living sacrifice and testimony to God. Martyrdom became part of a larger narrative genre comprehending the death of believers at the hands of hostile authorities within a wide range of other faithful practices that becomes a bodily witness to God’s drama of salvation in the world. The form of power Jesus promises to his disciples is, in other words, far from that which seeks to control, determine, force, or rule: the top-down form of power that empire embodies. Rather, it is one that allows those who receive it to live a life that challenges injustice and violence in a way based upon love, invitation, servanthood, and care for the oth-
er. The form of power that Jesus promises is one that allows those who receive this power through the Holy Spirit to live in ways that imitate the life of Jesus, even if that also leads to their own death. The power of the Holy Spirit promised in Acts 1:8 is, in short, the ability to live a cross-shaped life of self-denying love – agape love, exemplified in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Embracing this form of power has some significant implications – implications that the Christian church has, unfortunately, all-too-often ignored. Power as understood through the lens of Jesus’ witness has implications for the way in which the church is understood and structured, for the way in which it would work. It has implications for the type of practices it would embody (witness). Rather than seeking to be in the realms and hallways of ‘power,’ the church would seek to live and be with those on the margins of society. Rather than seeking ways to force, coerce, and/or structure all of society, the church would embody a different social order that seeks to live rightly with one another in the face of the old one, inviting others to participate in this new social order. Rather than relying on a leader to tell the church what to do, the church would together explore ways of embodying God’s rule (a vastly different kind of rule based on agape love) on earth. Rather than seeking to fulfill one’s own desire, the church would embody a self-sacrificing concern for the other. Such an alternative form of power – the original form of power that Jesus demonstrated, which was then poured over the disciples with the arrival of the Holy Spirit – is vastly different from other forms of power in our world1. Unlike the power that empires and states assume and which the ‘Christendom’ church continues to accommodate, the power that the Holy Spirit provides is an ability to live and potentially die for the other. In this way we witness to Jesus Christ and the same kind of love that he exemplified. This creates in us a different imagination based on the unique power the Holy Spirit provides. ________ 1 Stephen Fowl, “The Primacy of the Witness of the Body to Martyrdom in Paul,” in Witness of the Body: The Past, Present, and Future of Christian Martyrdom, ed. Michael L. Budde and Karen Scott (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011), 44.
NEW KIND OF POWER: POLITICS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Mzwandile Nkutha I grew up in a Christian family though, during my teen years, I rebelled against the Christian ethos encouraged (or perhaps enforced) by my parents. I grew up attending church services most Sundays, bible study groups during the week and youth camps during school holidays (well, sometimes). The Christian expression that shaped my understanding of God and journey of faith was the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, including the kind of praxis that often encourages spontaneity, pragmatism and always seeking the prompting and/or guidance of the Holy Spirit. Being a young person seeking the guidance or prompting of the Holy Spirit was not always something exciting. When you’re young you want to try new things, you want to flow with the rhythms of ‘spontaneity.’ Spontaneity seems to be a prevailing trend within Pentecostal traditions, a trend that often supersedes the guidance of the Spirit. If we truly seek to partake in the love dance of the rhythm of the Spirit then our Christian journey would look and sound different, perhaps more fascinating than what we are experiencing currently. Paul indicates what ‘living in the Spirit’ means in this phrase, “…those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Rom 8:5ff). One thing that comes with seeking and living in accordance with God’s spirit is the ability to explore new things and experiences, the ability to (re)imagine what it means to be a follower of Christ. Part of my early ‘come back’ Christian experience was joining the Vineyard movement. Again, this was the experience of Pentecostal immersion, even though the Vineyard movement claims to be bridging the schism between the so-called evangelicals and Pentecostalism. This claim of bridge building gave Vineyard move-
ment the expression: ‘Radical Middle.’ Often embracing a Pentecostal ethos, i.e. speaking in tongues, demon exorcism, prophesying and healing the sick, the Vineyard movement never distances itself from evangelicalism. (I personally believe that Pentecostals are Evangelicals, even though a distinction is often made between the two terms.) Vineyard reinforced the praxis of ‘power encounter’, ‘power evangelism’ and ‘power healing,’ concepts introduced by John Wimber – the founder of the Vineyard movement. His claim was that the encounter with God leads into evangelism that manifests healing, that these battles rage in the spirit world between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. It was not long before I became uncomfortable with the dualism that most Pentecostal – Charismatic movements present. When I began studying at a Catholic institution, I discovered a different trajectory of thinking and praxis. The dualism of the spirit world versus the material world started crumbling and I began the journey of deconstructing what ‘living in accordance or in step with the Holy Spirit’ might mean. It was both a fascinating and frustrating experience. For the first time I could view the Holy Spirit inclusively, that in all things the Spirit of God is involved - not only in the supernatural as I was taught - but in everything. As St. Peter Claver, SJ once said: “seek God in all things and we shall find God by our side”. Why am I painting the picture above? I feel compelled to depict the background that shaped my understanding of what it means to “live in accordance with the Spirit” and “setting one’s mind on what the Spirit desires”. The question that attracted me to write this short piece was: what does it mean to live a life in step with God’s spirit? This question is broad and existential by description; it requires one to reflect on previous and current experiences, hence the background I have just painted. Before one attempts to respond further to this question, however, one must first ask the following question: How can God’s spirit infuse the (re)imagination of what it means to be true followers of Christ? How can God’s spirit infuse the (re)imagination of what it means to be true followers of Christ? The (re)imagination of what it means to be true followers of Christ is rooted in the biblical political
narrative depicted by Luke in Acts 1. Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder was helpful in introducing us to the term “Politics of Jesus”. If the politics of Jesus emerged from the cultural and social milieu, the same should apply to the Holy Spirit in a Trinitarian sense. Franciscan priest Richard Rohr published a book in 2003 titled “Everything belongs.” At the same time progressive evangelical pastor Rob Bell published a talk called “Everything is Spiritual.” Both authors argue that in the Hebrew Scriptures there is no word for ‘spiritual,’ that Jesus never used the phrase ‘spiritual life’ because for Jesus all of life is spiritual (everything belongs). By contrast, the Pentecostal tradition that shaped my Christian background emphasized dualism – ‘spiritual and physical’. Hence, from a Pentecostal perspective, the hermeneutical paradigm of Acts 1 tends to separate the spirit and politics (physical). To subvert this dualism, Rohr introduces an interesting notion ‘contemplation in action’ – merging social justice and contemplation. To reflect further in the story of Acts 1, a few things come to mind. One of the major elements in the story is a theo-political question directed to Jesus: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts1:6). In other words, Lord are you now going to liberate Israel from the oppressive Roman Empire’s political system? Jesus’ response is often misunderstood and depicted esoterically rather than as a social and political issue, but separating or disengaging the spiritual from the physical can lead into an unbalanced dualism. The Rohr-Bell (re)imagination helpfully incorporates the two as one authentic Christian spirituality. Returning to the question directed to Jesus, here’s how Jesus responded: “He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (1:7-8) Jesus is teaching us (his followers) a ‘new kind of power,’ one completely different to the Roman Empire’s hegemony, its propensity to oppress and its military rule. Jesus’ response introduces a new
kind of power, one fostered by God’s gentle spirit. This is no militarization disguised as Pax Romana – pseudo peace. It is rather the politics of the Holy Spirit that demonstrates egalitarianism. As Jesus himself put it, “the Spirit of the sovereign God is upon me to liberate the oppressed” (Luke 4:18). Emmanuel Katongole stresses the importance of engaging politics as we are in step with the Holy Spirit, saying “my life and ministry as a Catholic priest has not only led me to engage more clearly the story of nation-state politics in Africa; it has led me to appreciate how deeply political the Christian gospel is.” This is what it means ‘to live a life in step with the Spirit.’ As Paul said, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Rom.8:14). As the wind blows to and fro, we therefore follow the Spirit with our minds and hearts fixed on Christ. Perhaps the question we ought to ask Jesus today, as his followers asked him then, is: Lord are we at this time listening and participating in rhythm with the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our steps toward his path? “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches” (Rev. 3:22). “All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not. Then, when you can get little enough and naked enough and poor enough, you’ll find that the little place where you really are is ironically more than enough and is all that you need. At that place, you will have nothing to prove to anybody and nothing to protect. That place is called freedom. It’s the freedom of the children of God. Such people can connect with everybody. They don’t feel the need to eliminate anybody . . .” ― Richard Rohr, Healing Our Violence through the Journey of Centering Prayer
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen. ~St. Augustine
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD by Ryan Peter
Having spent most of my teenage years in a Prosperity Word of Faith charismatic church, during the time of the “Toronto Blessing” in the 90s, my only understanding of the Holy Spirit was that he did stuff to you that you weren’t sure you really wanted done – like laughing uncontrollably, or barking like a dog, or falling over when the preacher prayed for you. Whether that was the fault of the preachers and leaders, or just the fact that I was a young teenager whose biggest mission in life was to show others that Christians could be cool too, I don’t know. But I knew that the Holy Spirit also healed people though, as Word of Faith theology goes, it all depends on your faith. Years later I rejected this notion – and most of my charismatic upbringing – mainly because I found this approach to faith very difficult to live with. But I didn’t really have another approach to replace it with. After a series of disappointments in life, and having to deal constantly with a particular sin issue, I decided to explore what faith really is. I delved into theology and Christian history and, in the process, my thinking of the Holy Spirit changed. I was far more interested in verses that spoke of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and holiness than those that spoke of empowering gifts (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12) and manifestations (Acts 2 and other scriptures about tongues). Yet I still could not reconcile the idea of experiencing the Holy Spirit (which I only ever understood to be tongues or laughing or such things) with the idea of holiness (which seemed to be some far-off ideal that I really wanted to have but just wasn’t able to). The first signs of help came in the form of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism, especially in his commentary on Psalm 16:11 (I quote the verse, not the commentary): “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” I read this verse at the office. I needed joy. Badly.
God says here he wants to give this to us. Eternal pleasures. I went home, closed my bedroom door, and said to God that if it was true that he wanted to give me some unexplainable joy, then he should do it now. And he did. Ironically, after years in a charismatic church, a non-charismatic Baptist (Piper) had a hand in guiding me towards my first charismatic experience (laughing in the Spirit) after I had completely quit believing in charismatic theology. But what was I to do now? I’m still trying to answer that question, but one thing I’ve noticed is that if I go after experience I get nothing, but if I go after God I get experience and a whole lot more. Over the years I’m convinced that the best way of summarising the Holy Spirit’s work is perfect love, and the best way of understanding what that looks like is looking to Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection. The empowering, the manifestations (however they may look), the gifts and anointing, and all these buzzwords we throw around are all for the purpose of God’s mission of love. What does holiness look like? It looks like perfect love, like Jesus. We all know that love (whether romantic or spiritual or in friendship or for a particular thing) is both an inward experience and an outward reality, despite how difficult that is to articulate. Love always changes me inwardly in a way that changes my outward behaviour. Love really does make a difference. But our problem, since the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is that we’re so interested in outward signs of works and experience instead of relationship and trust (what faith is) that we get caught up in all sorts of things that are ‘resounding gongs’ and ‘clashing cymbals,’ but are not love. We can get so concerned about speaking in tongues or whether we dress the right way or whether we vote for the right party or whether we believe the right philosophy or whether we support the right country, that we silence the small still voice in exchange for our own grandeur and righteousness. I’ve never really seen much activism that doesn’t soon degenerate into a harbinger of collective self-righteousness instead of ushering in the righteousness of God. Being led by the Spirit is to leave law behind (which I believe really refers to any kind of works
righteousness) and thus leave sin behind (as Romans 5,6,7 and 8 deal with so skilfully) so that the Trinity may live his love through us, as individuals and as the Church, into a world possessed by evil and its own self-righteousness. To put it in a crude way, we are to be possessed by God so we may take possession of those he loves, because we are all his possession. Justification is by faith; sanctification is by faith; and missional living is by faith. Faith working through love, love working through faith. Faith that isnâ€™t name-it-and-claim-it, but faith that is about being the Bride of the King â€“ relational, intimate, faithful, honest, trustful, being his very own possession â€“ all the things that faith has always been in Christian theology before it came to mean a magical force that depends on your willpower.
Just as the breath determines the word and gives it shape and sound, even so the breath, wind and spirit of God makes the word living and active within us and leads us into all truth. ~ Peter Riedeman, 1542
REFLECTIONS ON LUKE 4 by Skhumbuzo Zuma
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21 I’m amazed at what follows this text. We are told that, having said these words, Jesus was rejected by those at the synagogue listening to him preach (4:22-30). I, however, would like to focus on verses 16-21. In the early verses of the chapter we are told about Jesus being full of Holy Spirit returning from Jordan and being led by the Spirit to the wilderness where the devile tempted him for forty days (4:12). We are then told of the three temptations Jesus suffered (4:3-13). In the first, having realized that Jesus was starving, the devil tempted him to command stones to become bread. This, Jesus refuses to do. In the second, the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, promising them to Jesus if he would worship the devil. This, too, Jesus refuses. In the last temptation, Jesus is to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple so that the angels might save him. This, again, Jesus refuses. My observations are that these three temptations are no coincidence, but premeditated attempts of the devil. It seems to me that the Bible is revealing the devil’s ‘tricks’. • The first trick is the exploitation of a need. Jesus is starving and the temptation is to ‘catch’ him out on his need. How many believers, ordinary people, or leaders fall into
this trap of temptation because of ‘need’? • The second seems to me to be the temptation of power. Jesus is shown the kingdoms of the world which could all be his if he submits to the devil. Again I ask, how many permit this temptation of power and give into this trap of the devil? This trap has not only caught out politicians but has made its way into our churches. The power struggle is everywhere and has been to the demise of even the most sacred institutions. • The third and last temptation is that of the ‘test,’ which I call tempting fate. Jesus was placed on the pinnacle of the temple, where he was to throw himself down and have the angels catch him. Shouldn’t this be the safest place to fall and be caught by angels? To me, this temptation seeks to interrogate our location: where do you find yourself? Is it where God placed us or is it of our own choosing? Do we still expect God’s protection even in those locations of our own choosing? It’s interesting that Jesus’ reading of the scroll of Isaiah occurs after he faced these temptations. Jesus’ reading references Isaiah 61:1-2, where Jesus reads only the first part of verse 2. I find this act, together with his next action of Jesus, to be quite remarkable. We see Jesus rolling the scroll and, sitting down, saying to them: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (4:21). Here is a significant fulfilment of Isaiah’s promise, right at that moment. What the Spirit revealed to Isaiah was a promise, and what the Spirit reveals to Jesus is the fulfilment of that promise. The worlds of Isaiah and Jesus are not different from our world. Jesus through the Spirit brought good news to the poor of this world. Who were the poor then, and who are the poor now? This text gives us an insight into that world’s socio-political and economic context. Clearly the authorities hadn’t been good news to the poor, according to the text. The poor were marginalized and had no voice to be heard by the authorities of the time. Is this any different from now, in our own current context? The text goes on to proclaim release of captives, recovery of sight to the blind and the freeing of the oppressed. All these are further evidence of a
dysfunctional world. One can only reimagine the nature of captivity as we encounter poverty, the working poor, the unemployed, homelessness, alcoholism, violence against women and children, incurable diseases, and so forth, in our own context. Therefore, when Jesus speaks of the year of the Lord’s favour, it must have meant something quite significant to them – though not as significant as verse 21, the fulfilment of the promise. Isn’t this the Spirit we all seek for counsel as we face the various struggles of our own lives and those around us? The Spirit that anoints us to bring good news to the poor in our current context where there is none? The Spirit that anoints prophets in our midst that will speak truth to power like Nathan spoke to David (2 Samuel 12)? As I mentioned earlier, the Spirit guarded Jesus through the temptations of the devil in the wilderness. It is the same Spirit that we need to counsel our own paths, that we do not fall into the traps set by being party to the injustices of those in power.
by Ken Jefferson The sky was slate grey. A threat of rain hung in the air. The wind blew steadily. It was the kind of morning to which something deep inside me responds. Maybe, being a Scot, it appealed to something of my ‘Northerness,’ of which C.S. Lewis was prone to speak. I was at this time living in North Wales, with reasonably easy access to the mountainsides of that area. Having a free afternoon before preaching next day, I made the decision to drive a short way out of the town where my wife and I were living, then went for a walk along a forest path. It was not the one less travelled by, but it made a difference to my day that I had not expected. What caused the difference was the fact that the wind grew stronger and stronger as I walked. As it did so, I came to a part of the forest where the trees were tall. I could hear the wind that had been singing start to change in character, until it was almost growling. I could also watch as the tops of the trees, which had been swaying, were now tossed about and some of the smaller branches were easily snapped off. The walk, which had been challenging against the wind, was now a struggle - I found I was quite breathless as I fought against it I had to give up on my thought of reaching a high point on the mountainside. It was tough going but exhilarating at the same time. To be alone, with only the sound of the wind rushing in my ear, feeling its sheer force, knowing how helpless I was to resist as it intensified, was an unforgettable experience. It was worth the effort of getting out of town and onto the mountainside for a few hours, returning home tired but very content. Why content? Simply because the experience was a reminder, one which I constantly need, of the sovereignty not of nature, but of nature’s God. I was made to reflect on the limitless power of the Spirit, the wind of God, the folly of forgetting that God cannot and will not be contained directed or domesticated by me. My privilege in relation to the Spirit is simply the privilege of exposure. It is the privilege of being subject to His dictates. It is the privilege of being
moved in the direction God determines, and so it is for everyone who is born of the Spirit. My difficulty is that I forget this. My difficulty, in my experience of the Spirit, is found in my wanting to have something rational more than something raw. I want to understand and categorize, even theologize, instead of being willing to be ‘blown away.’ And to the extent that I live without being open and vulnerable to the mystery, to the sheer force of the Spirit, I live predictably, safely, reasonably, maybe (very occasionally) fearfully. More often, the ideal of walking in the Spirit is more of a stroll than a struggle. Do I ever imagine for a moment that the Spirit is still able to pick me up from my place and dump me down in another place, able to take over and to take control of my life ‘Elijah style,’ without asking my permission? Seems to me that even among the people of God, I may talk about dependence on the power and presence of the Spirit - but I expect this to happen in a controlled environment, where my ‘openness to the Spirit’ is actually quite conditioned. I might go further, and say that even when I have been in those meetings, services or events where it is said that there is a period of ‘ministry in the Spirit’ going on, there is still so much that is in line with the expectation of those who are running the event, expectation that allows for much that conventional church gatherings wouldn’t normally embrace - but still their only too obvious control going on. But it is not anyone else’s house that I should be trying to put in order. It is my own that needs repair. As I try to do so I am reluctant, because exposure to the Spirit, while it will not be less than learning to embrace the basics as I know them well enough from scripture, might also be something more vigorous and vital than I have known so far.
CREATION’S YES by Allen Goddard
Pholela Valley Grass Dancing on Maluti downwinds, husks on multitudes of filaments haloed in Sani sun like sand flakes strung, all bow, then vault to the horizon Their source of music silhouettes even hiding orchids, lilies and lobelia and kisses asters swaying boldly blushing Sani Pass crosses the Pholela Valley (pronounced with a hard ‘p’) between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal in the Drakensberg-Maluti Biosphere Reserve.
Evening Wind On my haunches in headwater grass above the Bloukrantz at dusk my fingers cup from the Northwester nine petal starlets, pricks of pollen peering from white Their fragrance, bolder on the fading light, alert as a musk deer downwind might nose invisible skeins and sense no danger, only hidden topographies of spring’s new nectar My palms release this potion of places into the shrill of night-new surrounds and I have to rise bereft, but even at my going something in their galaxy lingers
Set Like Flint The mountain side bends to a harsh wind drier than the mistral that blew on Jonah bushes strain to hold clodding soil grasses frayed to dust for dearth of rain It looks as though the very peaks prepare for their metaphorical toppling into sea but they will stand through this beating and cling to waiting for the coming feet I’m thankful to Estelle Kruger for her sand-play exercise that brought this poem to me from initial idea and all but to completion, in ten minutes!
Wind on Bainskloof’s Witterivier A ruffling Southeaster soon after dawn ripples a Wellington mountain pool to wake blink white as if light laid on such deeps knows of God’s presence gusted in circles and dazzling into a question Unfreighted rocks almost afloat under the pool face lift heaviness out of my gaze so that I can answer the frankness, the bluster of this river’s youth And what do I say? Yes! I am here to be torrent roughed, tousled and cooled like today’s first sun sprinkled, to answer God’s voice over water as a lad, half clad, whoops ankle deep in the daybreak all sparkled, and then finding breath leaps
Eagle Mending Set free to early morning from darkness in the holding box and caged weeks of recovery, a young Black Eagle blunders into brightness Slow fulfilling wings lift him sideways to an anthill, but he topples fumbling on low grasses Dark feathers bright again this time to the wind, gifting pinions eager, launching, bearing strong eyes away to search translucent canopies So he thermals easily taming the wildness
SELECTIONS FROM HYMNAL: A WORSHIP BOOK #26
#361 O Spirit of the living God, thou Light and Fire divine, descend upon thy church once more and make it truly thine! Fill it with love and joy and pow’r with righteousness and peace till Christ shall dewll in human hearts and sin and sorrow cease.
Holy Spirit, come with power, breathe into our aching night. We expect you this glad hour, wiaitng for your strength and light. We are fearful we are ailing, we are weak and selfish too. Break upon your congregaion, give us vigor, life a-new.
Blow, wind of God! with wisdom blow, until our minds are free from mists of error clouds of doubt, which blind our eyes to thee Burn, winged Fire! Inspire our lips with flaming love and zeal, to preach to all they great good news, God’s glorious commonweal.
Holy Spirit, come with fire, burn us with our presence new. Let us as one mighty choir sing our hymn of praise to you. Burn away our wasted sadness and enflame us with your love. Burst upon your congregation, give us gladness from above.
Teach us to utter living words of truth which all may hear, the language all may understand when love speaks, loud and clear, till ev’ry age and race and clime shall blend their creeds in one, and earth shall form on family by whom thy will is done.
Holy Spirit, bring your message, burn and breathe each word a-new deep into our tired living till we strive your work to do. Teach us love and trusting kindness land our hands to those who hurt. Breathe upon your congregation and inspire us with our word.
So shall we know the pow’r of Christ who came this world to save. So Shall we rise with him to life which soars beyond the grave, and earth shall win true holiness, which makes thy children whole, till, perfected by thee, we reach the glorious goal.
# 289 Filled with the Spirit’s Pow’r, with one accord The infant church confessed its risen Lord. O Holy Spirit, in the church today Again your pow’r of fellowship display Now with the mind of Christ set on us like fire, That unity may be our great desire. Give joy and peace, give faith to hear your call, And readiness in each to work for all. Widen our love, good Spirit, to embrace, The people of all lands and ev’ry race. Like wind and fire, with life among us move Time we are know as Christ’s and Christians prove.
#507 Gracious Spirit, dwell with me: I myself would gracious be, and, with words that help and heal, would thy life in mine reveal, and, with actions bold and meek, would for Chist my Savior speak. Truthful Spirit, dwell with me: I myself would truthful be, and, with wisdom kind and clear, let thy life in mine appear, and, with actions lovingly speak my Lordâ€™s sincerity. Silent Spirit, dewll with me: I myself would silent be, quiet as the growing blade, which through earth its way has made, silently, like morning light, putting mists and chills to flight.
SELECTIONS FROM SING THE JOURNEY # 159 May the Grace of Christ that daily renews our lives, and the love of God that enables us to love all persons, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit that unites us as one body, make us keen to discern and prompt to obey the complete will of God until we meet agian, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Mighty Spirit dwell with me: I myslef would mighty be, mighty so as to prevail where unaided I must fail. Ever, by a mighty hope, pressing on and bearing up.
Holy Spirit dwell with me: I myself would holy be, break from sin and choose the good, cherish what my Savior would, and whatever I can be, give to him who gave me thee.
As water falls on dry tea leaves and brings out their flovor, so may your Spirit fall on us and renew us so we may bring refreshment and joy to others
Go in peace, and may the holy God surprise you, Christ Jesus be your partner, and the lively Spirit call your steps. #163
Go with the strength you have. Go simply, lightly, gently, in search of Love. And the Spirit go with you.
PUSH IT FURTHER///
TITLES AVAILABLE FROM THE ANISA BOOKSHOP POST-CHRISTENDOM: CHURCH AND MISSION IN A STRANGE NEW WORLD by: Stuart Murray The end of Christendom, where the Christian story was known and the church was central, invites Christians in western culture to embrace marginality and discover fresh ways of being church and engaging mission. Whilst the transition from modernity to postmodernity has received a huge amount ot attention, the shift from Christendom to post-Christendom has not yet been fully explored. This book is an introduction, a journey into the past, an interpretation of the present and an invitation to ask what following Jesus might mean in the strange new world of post-Christendom. COST: R140
MORE-WITH-LESS COOKBOOK (UPDATED EDITION) by: Doris Janzen Longacre For more than 35 years, More-with-Less Cookbook has helped thousands of families establish a climate of joy and confen for others at mealtime, while improving nutrition and saving money. This cookbook contains recipes and suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the worldâ€™s limited foor resources. COST: R120
JOURNEY TOWARD RECONCILIATION by: John Paul Lederach We live in a diverse, but interdependent world. Even with modern technology, communications, and travel, we still need to build relationships leading to reconciliation. John Paul Lederach shares insights gained from years of work in international mediation and deep spiritual reflection on the task of reconciliation. From personal experiences and the Bible story, he finds God seeking reconciliation throughout history. Here is help for conflicted families, communities, and nations. COST: R90
UPSIDE DOWN KINGDOM by: Donald B. Kraybill Translated into six languages, and with over 100,000 copies sold, The Upside-Down Kingdom continues to change people’s lives. Donald B. Kraybill shows how the kingdom of God announced by Jesus appeared upside-down in first-century Palestine. Jesus wins by serving and triumphs by losing. Today, God’s way still looks upside-down as it breaks into diverse cultures around the world. COST: R110
DISCIPLESHIP AS POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY by: John Howard Yoder In this work Yoder successds in reopening the theological debate on Christians and political responsibility with the larger church to which persecution had put and end 400 years earlier. Biblical scholare Timothy J. Geddert translated two of these lectures, originally given in Germany, as a resource to understand Yoder’s invitation to begin and exploratory journey that leads into Jesus Christ’s peace church. COST: R50
LIVING MORE WITH LESS by: Doris Janzen Longacre, ed by: Valerie Weaver-Zercher Living More-with-Less: 30th Anniversary Edition collects the wisdom and experience of those who live with less than a consumer culture says we need. With stories, reflections, and advice from people around the world who are making changes to their daily habits in respose to climate change and global povery, Living More-with-Less: 30th Anniversary Edition is a vibrant collection of testimonies, old and new, of those who are discovering the joy of living with enough. COST: R90
LOVING ENEMIES: A MANUAL FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE by: Randy and Joyce Klassen Like parents and grandparents everywhere, Randy and Joyce Klassen are deeply concerned about the state of the world in which their children and grandchildren will be living. Will violence and wars escalate? Or will the worldâ€™s peoples, including those in a United States so often involved with war, try a different way? Will even ordinary people commit ourselves to selfless love? Will we strengthen and expand the reality of justice and peace in our world? This book is a manual for those of us ready to try. COST: R80
JESUS MATTERS: GOOD NEWS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY by: James R. Kraybill and David W. Shenk Jesus Christ is popular with many North Americans, but do the honor the Jesus of Scriptre? Each author in this collection teams with one or more young adults to consider the various wasy we encounter and experience Jesus. Topics include Jesus and creation, Jesus and the cross, Jesus and salvation, Jesus and mission, and Jesus and the future. Authors include Stanley green, Michele Hershberger, Marth Thiessn Nation, Willard Swartley, Jack Suderman and April Yamasaki. Foreward by Shane Caliborne. COST: R100
THE NAKED ANABAPTIST: BARE ESSENTIALS OF A RADICAL FAITH by: Stuart Murray Anabaptist Christians have been around for almost 500 years. Writing from Great Britian, Stuart Murray peels back the layers to reveal the core components of Anabaptism- and what they mean for faith in his context and ours. Itâ€™s a way of following Jesus that challenges, disturbs, and inspires us, summoning us to wholehearted discipleship and worship. Read this book, and catch a vision for living a life of radical faith! COST: R100
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