January 11, 2010

The Other Two... Christ & the Holy Spirit

What changes has the practice of ministry had on your understanding of a) the “lordship of Jesus Christ,” and b) the work of the Holy Spirit?

In my ministry, my understanding of the lordship of Christ has not changed much at all, but I have had the opportunity to preach and teach the Kingdom that Christ brings. Some of the sermons that made me the most nervous throughout these past two years have been those that have dealt with this very topic. And yet, in everything I do, I have tried to stretch our understandings of who Jesus is beyond merely our personal salvation. We have talked about priorities, we have placed Christ’s Kingdom alongside nationalism, we have been reminded that Christ came not with a sword but in a manger, and that we follow a lord who calls us to follow him to the cross. But above all, I am constantly reminded that our lord died so that we might all have life and life abundant.

My understanding of the Holy Spirit, however, has been dramatically deepened. While before I may have theoretically thought of the Spirit as the agent of life and creativity, every Sunday as I stand to preach, I know that the words that come out of my mouth are there only through the Spirit’s prompting. As I held my newborn nephew this fall, I was dazzled by the gift of life. As the youth that traveled with me to Tennessee for a mission trip this past summer stood in front of the congregation to tell their stories, I saw the Holy Spirit lighting a spark in their eyes and changing them forever. As I witnessed a great-grandmother say yes to a call from God and become a lay speaker in our church and then preach with less than a week’s notice – the Holy Spirit was there working. She gives us life and helps us to grow more into Christ’s likeness each and every single day.

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