Over the next several weeks, I'll be offering our devotionals on the book of Acts. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this book of the Bible, it is an accounting of the early church. I believe in this time of history, when church is becoming more and more irrelevant for people's lives, it would be a good practice to look to our past history as we reconstruct our present understanding. Now, don't get me wrong, this is not a matter of trying to repeat the past, for the church stuck in nostalgia is one that is sure to be unconvincing. But for those of us who are longing for the church to actually make a difference in the world and that belief in God should be about more than words or a Sunday morning ritual, this is the book we need to read. Why?
The Holy Spirit.
That's what started it all...
But when you hear that word "Holy Spirit," what do you think of?
Speaking in tongues? Snake handlers? Or maybe dancing in the aisles being "slain by the spirit?"
Hopefully by the end of this series, you will have some new understandings of how "The Holy Spirit" can be defined, and also how it gives you new purpose and meaning in life. And maybe, just maybe, it can fill the church with some new understanding of who it is as well.
To start with, we hear in our Scripture for today of the importance of waiting for the Holy Spirit.
Jesus' disciples are told to "wait in Jerusalem" for the one the Father sends. The one being sent is called the 'advocate" or the "paraclete." This Holy Spirit is named in a variety of ways throughout the Old Testament as the breath or wind of God (think about the creation story) or Wisdom (think of Proverbs and Psalms) and even the dove that descends upon Jesus during his baptism of the river Jordan. The Holy Spirit has been around for a while, but this time, the Holy Spirit is different because it is continuing the message of Jesus. And that is what they are waiting for. They wait, to understand how the Holy Spirit will be different this time.
How many times have you waited for things to be different in your life?
A different job? A different living situation? A different dynamic in a relationship?
Waiting for things to be different is counterintuitive, because in our society we are told that we need to be the change we want to become, not wait for it.
So what does it mean instead to wait, and to trust that what God is doing will be revealed?
That is about waiting in God's time, not ours.
In his book "In Praise of Wasting Time," Alan Lightman speaks of the importance of doing nothing (talk about counter-cultural!) and how this practice allows your brain a different type of functioning for creative thinking. He describes the difference between 'kairos' and 'chronos' time from the Greek philosophers. Chronos is time by the calendar, and kairos is the space between time. Interestingly kairos is also defined as God's time.
So perhaps in that waiting space between times, God is doing something in your life. Perhaps the waiting is part of God's creative work. Perhaps in that waiting, the Holy Spirit is starting to move in ways that you can not define or anticipate.
Let us trust together in the waiting...