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What is the Spirit saying to the churches?3 weeks ago
In this week’s ReSource Blog George Fisher asks what the Holy Spirit who brought the church into being is saying to us today, and how the church is being re-shaped by the Spirit through the impact of the pandemic, in what he sees as a once in a lifetime opportunity set of opportunities.
As we enter the season of Pentecost my thoughts have been drawn to the phrase ‘Living Stones’ from 1 Peter 2 verse 5, and them being built into a spiritual house.
Our buildings are made of bricks – all the same size, normally the same colour, uniform and regimented. That’s not the picture here. Nearer to it is a dry-stone wall, each stone chosen for its unique shape by the skilled builder to fit alongside the others. Or alternatively, Lego bricks. Our grandson Sam, aged 7 has boxes and boxes of it, and finding the right brick which is the right shape and right colour is a work of art as you try to follow the meticulous instructions, but the outcome is incredible and worth it all. Sam is now into creating his own masterpieces.
Where God’s Spirit dwells
We are Living Stones chosen, fashioned and shaped to fit together by the master builder, we are God’s handiwork as Ephesians 2:10 mentions.
But it’s not simply about our personal development and fulfilment. We are being built together into a spiritual house, and we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that God’s Spirit dwells in our midst. The Christian journey is not a solo venture. We are being built together and shaped to fit together, and that happens not only when we meet on Sundays but whenever two or three gather in His name.
And where there are people there are problems, but it is these problems both with ourselves and with others, which are part of the shaping and building, just as it was with the 12 disciples as they followed Jesus together. It can be painful to have a few corners chipped off and rough edges made smooth, but where it is God the master craftsman moulding us, we need not fear. And whereas a natural stone gets smaller and smaller to become the right shape, we are living stones and we grow into the right shape for God’s purposes as His Spirit moves within us and amongst us.
I’m glad we’re not all regimented and uniform bricks. I’m glad to be part of a spiritual building and under the hand of the Master Builder who knows what is right and best for me and for all of us together. Therefore, it is crucial that we listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.
What is the Spirit saying?
In the last year of the Coronavirus Pandemic we have been shaped by God’s hand in many ways. We cannot simply return to what we did before the pandemic as if nothing has changed.
What is the Spirit saying to us as individuals? Some have been through difficult and testing times which have reshaped us. Many of us have slowed down and learnt more of what it means to pray and wait on God – we don’t want become so busy again that this is squeezed out.
What is the Spirit saying to our churches? Many have ministered in new ways, whether this is community action or online and we cannot simply dust off that old Mission Action Plan and presume it is what is now needed post-pandemic where the community has changed as well as the church. We are not the same spiritual building and we must listen carefully to the Master Builder as we come back together in new ways.
What is the Spirit saying to us as groups of churches in teams, deaneries, areas and denominations? We have an opportunity to deploy ourselves and work together in new ways. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity which the Lord has given us. Let’s not be dead stones which are rigid and inflexible, but Living Stones open to what the Spirit is saying to His church.
Come, Holy Spirit!
So let’s come to Jesus, the cornerstone and foundation stone. Let’s put ourselves afresh into the capable hands of our master-builder, listening to what His Spirit is saying to us this Pentecost, being thankful for our brothers and sisters who with us make up His spiritual building, and offer ourselves to Him in His great work of building His church and growing His kingdom.
Come, Holy Spirit, breathe new life into us this Pentecost and speak to us so that we might become the individuals and spiritual communities you call us to be to serve your purposes. Amen.