Friday, December 11, 2009

the spirit, worship, leadership. but outside the gathered?

Some random thoughts have been churning through my head. They are a mix of pastoral encounters with people in hard places, who no longer feel able to pray. And the ongoing tension of being a pastoral leader in today’s post-Christendom context, when the gathered expect my feeding, but the mission task keeps itching. And engaging (through study and reading this week) Romans 8:26, in which the Spirit prays for us.

And wondering if this prayer is embodied, takes shape in the habits of the praying community and the praying leader. As in Anunication, baptism, transfiguration, resurrection, pentecost, the Spirit finds concrete shape in human things, so does this prayer of the Spirit take shape in the prayers of the saints?

And all of this stimulated by watching U2 live in Raleigh. (Yes, yet another U2 reference on this blog. Sorry for being stuck in a moment. This time will pass!).  Third song in is Mysterious ways. At the end, Bono invokes the Spirit. (See a clip here).

He literally names the one who moves us as the Spirit (3:45 “Spirit teach me, reach me), and then shifts from singular to plural (is the “we” the band or the crowd?), inviting that Spirit to come and be present (3:55 “we move with it”). And the lighting switches from being band-centric, to mirror-ball, with white light moving over the crowd (4:08). A magic moment, as for the first time the crowd are lit. 

And the part of me that is not dancing and enjoying, but is paying attention wonders if this is coincidence, or if I am hearing Bono right, and seeing the light correct. Is the Spirit being invoked to be present at a rock concert, to play not just over a band member, but over all those gathered? If so, is this part of Romans 8:26, in which the Spirit is praying for the aches and pains of the gathered thousands, through the words and invitation of a singer, and underlined by a lighting director?

And if so, how to make sense  – theological, liturgical, congregational – of that moment, and other moments, when the Spirit is invoked beyond the gathered church?

Many will have never make this connection I have made. Does this matter? Is this “prayer” still “for” them? Many of them will not consider themselves “Amen-ers” ready to say yes to the work of the Spirit in them. Does this matter? How is this “prayer” still “for” them? But many will go on in the concert to pray and to enact justice on behalf of the One campaign. So is this then their participation in an activity of the Spirit?

Such are the thoughts that wriggle through my head at the moment.

Posted by steve at 12:14 PM

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.