A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Robert A. Heinlein

God Has No Grandchildren

“The results of the neglect of the Holy Spirit by many sections of the Church have been utterly disastrous. Deprived of the sense of power and of the experience of God’s life, religion deteriorates into a dreary system of rules and ceremonies. It becomes content with a ‘diminished mode of consciousness’. So religion ceases to mediate the world of the Spirit, and becomes a second-hand account of what was once experienced by people long since dead. …” [1]

What a chilling statement, cold but often true. Deep in my heart I pray that such is not the case at Saint John’s. But in a sense it is true for I fear that for many this may be the case. Some have told me as much. For some the church is nothing more than empty ceremony as the scripture puts it having the form but denying the power thereof. I am not content to have that be the case for anyone so much as it is in my power to effect.

We have become content with a “diminished mode of consciousness” so much so that we would be shocked by the heightened awareness of mutual love and concern, which is how St. Thomas Aquinas said that Jesus is principally experienced. It is the birth right of all the baptized to know and love God with all the attending entangling relationships that such knowledge brings.

My deepest hope for Saint John’s is that we not settle for “a second-hand account of what was once experienced by people long since dead. …” We come every time we gather to encounter the risen Jesus. The Holy Spirit is so skilled and clever that it will happen when we least expect it. The job for the leaders of the community is to provide a matrix of scripture lessons well read, carefully prepared sermons preached with conviction that can be heard and liturgy carefully prepared so that there is the tension of a well-rehearsed drama. Music chosen for the occasion but also accessible to the people, choirs well rehearsed offer their gifts to God and provide yet another entry point into the matrix of transformation. The art in the Church sets the standard for all that we do. The flowers must be arranged as beautifully and creatively as possible, the vestments must be beautiful carefully maintained, the vessels and linens prepared with love not as an end but as a beautiful and appropriate frame enhances a painting. The aesthetics promote beauty, which prompts the soul with a longing for God. All we can do is provide the liturgical` matrix and then get out of the way for the Holy Spirit is always prepared do the work of conversion.

[1] Alfred Krass, Evangelizing Neopagan North America