Through this 2019 season of local church conferences, there have been glimpses of Emmanuel. Phyllis Murray, our District Lay Leader, and I have made the circuit, visiting each of our churches. We engaged in conversations about what is truly at the heart of the ministry of each church. One of the questions we have asked is — Where and how have you recently experienced the Spirit of God?
There was often silence as we paused and considered the depth of the question and to find the right words to share our experience of a sacred moment and a holy mystery. A first thought is often — I’m not sure I could say there has been such an experience. The Spirit of God visiting me, as Mary was visited with the news of the coming Messiah. Who am I to have had such a theophany?
Then someone finds the words and bravely, yet humbly, shares a divine visitation…
A homeless woman came to the church in midweek and asked for assistance. I perceived that it was more than food or clothing she wanted. There was also the hope for company and conversation. I invited her into the sanctuary where we were beginning to prepare for the “hanging of the greens.” I invited her to help decorate one of the Christmas trees. She held an ornament as though it was the most precious of treasures and then gently hung it on a bough of the tree. The expression on her face was holy. It was a sacred moment. It made the dimly lit and quiet sanctuary in the middle of an ordinary week, a sacred space. God was with us.
And another shares through tears…
Our church is in a vulnerable time. It is becoming hard to pay the most basic bills. The other day when my youngest daughter was talking to me about her experience and wonder of God, I realized how important my church family is. What if we cannot continue this ministry and our family needs to find another place of worship? This place is a part of home and these people are a part of my family. This is where we have come to know God.
My husband and I were married in this church. We baptized and raised our daughter here. She was married here, too. It was here where my husband’s memorial service was held. This sanctuary is a holy place where the milestones of my life have happened. This is where I have met God and celebrated with God so many times and in so many ways.
The Advent and Christmas seasons heighten our awareness of the Emmanuel experience of God-with-us. So, I ask, Where and how have you recently experienced the Spirit of God? Share the story with someone. It will bring depth and meaning to your soul and theirs.
With Mary, let us lift our voices…
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.” (Luke 1)
In the Blessings of Christmas,