I miss my friends at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. I miss the bulky greenness of Boardman, with its windy promontories and weather, and … oh I miss its surprising weather!
I enjoy the congregational letters to me very much. I am pleased to hear that the congregation is still soaring with song — with Renee tapping the heavenly gifts and that people are feeling the spirit rise in them there strongly. All of these are good things. All of these are gracious things.
Right now, down in the citied lowlands near Salem, my friends and I feel that our little weekend Sabbath service we are instituting is in its right shape down in Aurora. Our musician there, Lori, plays flute and keyboard, and is herself an instrument vibrating to the ethers. God shakes her like a cymbal. Heaven rustles.
This new, nighttime service is designed to align several Christian spiritual practices that are not commonly used and to provide a place where people can feel in contact with their Lord and Savior and with their own inner selves, which is joined to God.
It is also designed to appeal to those of multiple denominations. No restriction. We use the chanting of the Taize services from France, the Centering prayer of the Benedictine monks, the serene peace of speaking in tongues of Glossolia that we read about in New Testament times, and prayers of supplication and prayers that are spoken or called out by the Holy Spirit in an order determined primarily by the perceived will of the Father. The Holy Spirit is gentle but is willing to shake us like an earthquake shakes palm trees.
Unlike the traditional Sunday service and its classical forms, this service is designed to be under the control of our maker, molding our movements, feelings and sounds into a vibrating and ecstatic pattern of divine life that we can perceive moving our spirits. It is an abnormal experience that most haven’t experienced before, not unpleasant but certainly wildly unusual.
Next service we shall open our service to receive more people, to allow them to experience this movement of the Holy Spirit in us and among us. I still work a sermon into the mix, using a lectionary text, and allow it to be received slowly, as the word, through the ears. It is my plan to do this service regularly in the weekend evening time frame, so that we make use of the darkness, the same darkness that the secret student Nicodemus used as cover when he came at night to ask Jesus the important questions.
We call our little evening service, “The Church of the Night” — a place where one has to make an effort to enter the darkness within our own breasts where our fear, sadness and hope reside, where we can find the Lord and ask him what it is we need to know.
If it goes as planned, and as God wills, I will integrate this with the standard Sunday services of other churches that folks feel normal with — and people can receive a mystical influx of the Holy Spirit that they invite within as part of this prayerful service. In this way we can deepen our exploration of Christ’s gift and share his gift with others.
The Holy Spirit, like a dove, is known to take flight and alight according to a higher call, so I am not sure how this will be received. I believe that God is in it and this is why I am doing this now.
May God’s will be done and may we all be blessed by his guiding spirit.
Colin Brown is the former pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boardman.