I had such a wonderful time with you at the retreat that I wanted to write to you and tell you how much I love you and love what is happening in our community. It is really a special thing that we should recognize as a beautiful gift from God, as Eleanor so wonderfully pointed out. One of the most special things for me was seeing how the Holy Spirit was touching many of us in new and surprising ways. One person said to me, “I like what is happening here because we are just giving room for God, but nobody is forcing anything. We are just giving space for God to move, and then everyone can respond in ways they are comfortable to respond.” That was a great encouragement to me.
Eleanor said, “Our most special prayer in the Vineyard is ‘Come Holy Spirit’”, and she is right. That simple prayer was given to us by John Wimber, who Eleanor spoke of this weekend. Over the course of the retreat, I was reminded of many other simple, yet profound, things that John used to say (he died in 1997). Here are a few of them…
“Everybody gets to play.” One of the things that I loved about our time together is how much fun we had together. I love that in our community it’s not just the ‘spiritual’ things that count, but that we are seeing everything we do as spiritual, including dancing, singing songs around the campfire, and playing spijker poepen! In saying, “Everybody gets to play”, John also meant that we have access to the Jesus sort of life and we all get to do the stuff that he did. This weekend, I saw a lot of us getting to play.
“The main and the plain.” By this, John meant that we get to do the stuff that we clearly see Jesus doing and telling his disciples to do. Including sharing life together, serving one another, encouraging each other, praying for healing, and worshipping our Father. And when it comes to the Holy Spirit, we don’t focus on the strange phenomenon on the outside, whether it’s crying, shaking, falling, or whatever that feels strange and uncomfortable. These are not marks of spirituality. What matters is what lasts. Are we more hopeful, more loving, more filled with faith? If this is the result, then all the strange and uncomfortable stuff will not matter so much, because it will be worth it in the end.
“The now and the not-yet.” This is the mystery of the kingdom. While we pray for the Kingdom of God to come, it is not fully here, and we live in the mysterious tension of the now and the not-yet. Why is it that one person is touched and another not? Why one person healed and another not? We are not given the answers for these hard questions. The only thing we can do is rejoice with those who are touched by God, grieve with those who are still waiting, and continue to pray in hope and faith for one another. While today may not be the day, we continue to hope that tomorrow may be.
“You get it to give it.” Finally, I think of Eleanor’s encouragement to us to share God’s love with those around us. This love of God, this experience of the Spirit is not for us alone. “You get it to give it!” So let’s not be selfish…let’s look for ways to share God’s love and power this week!
With affection, and til next time,
PS If you want to hear John Wimber tell his story (which is inspiring and funny!), you can download and listen to his message, “I’m a Fool for Christ, whose fool are you?