Acts 2 tells the story of a business meeting I imagine being similar to many we have in church. The disciples are gathered to discuss the business at hand and then, without warning, the Holy Spirit descended on them like fire. They began to speak in tongues and the meeting is adjourned because, frankly, whatever business they were discussing beforehand didn’t seem that important anymore.
In telling this story to the crowd who witnessed the spectacle, Peter reminds them of what the prophet Joel said:
16″No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”
In my first few weeks of ministry I’ve noticed that days can quickly become filled with meetings where we discuss the “nuts and bolts” of how we do church and exist as a community of faith. These meetings are, more often than not, guided by personal taste and tradition as the measuring sticks of what’s acceptable and what’s not. We hash out plans and offer opportunity for support and descent. Sometimes we pass measures and sometimes we table them for future meetings. We ask how and even bemoan the fact that much of what we decide to do will never see the light of day because no one will step up to carry out the work that’s required. And such can become the endless cycle of meetings in the life of a minister.
Last week I had a day where my meeting schedule was interrupted. I was a couple of minutes late to a staff meeting because when I went to my car to get something out of it I ran into a man who with his wife had been visiting our church for some time. I asked him in conversation if they’d ever considered joining and he informed they actually had. And then he began to tell me how they had not really been a part of a church for 30 years. They found this church about a year ago and loved it. They were so glad to be involved. The hesitation in their joining is that his wife wanted to be baptized but since she’d never seen an adult baptism as the service they attend she wanted to wait for a chance to ask the pastors questions. Well I quickly responded that if she feels led to be baptized we would be more than happy to help guide her in this decision and process. He was very excited and promised to put his wife in contact with us as soon as he got home.
As I went into that staff meeting I have to admit there was a spring in my step. I realized that sometimes, when we’re least expecting it, God can interrupt our day and break the monotony of our schedule and remind us why we’re in this game in the first place. On this particular day I went in to that meeting a different person. I don’t remember what we discussed in there. I do remember feeling hot. If I’m not mistaken, I might go so far as to say I was on fire…