Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Life in the Spirit - Week 5

Move That Bus

Last night was Move That Bus night at the Life in the Spirit Seminar my friends have been leading at St. Michael's Parish in Ridgetown, Ontario. The purpose of Life in the Spirit is to invite people to open themselves to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives, such that they can operate in the spiritual gifts that Jesus promised would be available to believers after He left the earth, and the Holy Spirit came.

Last night did not start out as expected. The night was supposed to be held in the Church Hall, but it was double booked, so it was moved into the Church, but there was a bit of a conflict there, or so it seemed at first. God is into resolving conflicts to His own Glory, and so He did.

The conflict was that there was Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament going on in the Church when we arrived. In Adoration, the Blessed Sacrament, the eucharist, is on display on the altar in a monstrance, and worshippers pray generally quietly for a period of time. This Adoration has been going on each Monday evening for some time, and corresponded with the lead up time to the Seminar. So, the two leaders and 3 others of us who had come to assist were unable to set up for the Seminar, but the strangest thing happened. We joined into the Adoration, and then the leader, Wayne Zimmer and a violin player, Brian Benoot got out their instruments and started to lead the congregation in Worship Songs until the completion of the Adoration time.

If you are going to lead into a time with the Holy Spirit, what better lead in is there than time with Jesus? Well, after the Adoration time was over, Fr. Sam Johnson did not remove the Blessed Sacrament from the altar, but decided to leave Jesus present throughout the seminar time. When you think about it, what could be better than to have Jesus present while the Holy Spirit is invited to work in the lives of believers?

So, after a time of praise music, the leaders Barb and Wayne Zimmer gave brief talks on what those present could expect from the Holy Spirit. They asked Marjorie Braatz, Youth Ministry co-ordinator from our home parish of St. George, London who came down with us, and me to join them and Father Sam Johnson in praying with people for the release of the Holy Spirit.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is a gift of prophecy. It is not prophecy in the sense of on what day something is going to happen, but is along the lines of general encouragement, though there is also more private prophecy that can be an encouragement for an individual. When there is prophecy, the place gets eerily still. Everybody just knows somehow to wait upon the Lord because something is going to happen, and they don't know what, but can sense it. Wayne had a prophecy just after the music ended and asked if anyone had a word from the Lord. He knew that someone had a word, and waited on it. I knew where the word was going to come from as well, because I knew that I had that word. I did not want to deliver it, not because it was going to be bad, but at the moment I was trying to be inconspicuous. I opened my eyes and looked at Wayne, and he winked at me. He knew! By that time, the word had basically pushed up my throat, and I really had little choice but to deliver it.

Here's the thing with prophecy. When it comes out of your mouth, you are not in control of it, and basically it isn't about you. It sounds like your voice, but any time I have had a prophecy, I have not had a clue about what it is that I apparently said after saying it. This was no different, and Wayne had no idea of what his prophecy had been. I'll touch on this more in a bit.

So, we commenced to pray with people, and watched as the Lord moved in each of their lives. Wayne led our praying, and as each person came up, he had words of Wisdom and Prophecy for them. He was able to describe certain details of their new home in the Lord that were pertinent to each one. He didn't know details of their lives, so it was particularly awesome that he saw things that he otherwise could not have known. As we prayed with them, occasionally one of the others of us had a Vision of something that was relative to the person.

One of the things that can happen to people, though God is gentle and will only have His way with you, if you wish Him to, is being slain in the Spirit. There are times and it happened often last night when a person is prayed with, and suddenly falls usually backward onto the floor. I was the designated catcher knowing this was probable, and managed to keep all who were so moved from hurting themselves. Near the end, my friends prayed over me, and I too was unable to keep from falling down. It is an unusual happening, not easily explained, but there was no way that I was going to remain standing. Nobody human pushed me, and when on the carpet, I rested and let God work on my heart, as the others had done.

One interesting gift that people receive is the ability to pray in tongues. Some received it immediately and commenced praying that way while being prayed over. Others will notice it later, and some don't receive it. How God hands out His gifts is up to Him really. They are His Gifts, after all.

We will return in a week, to see how they are all doing, and to let them share in what God has done with and for them over the week. Some will have had visions of things in their lives and those of others. Some will have been healed of things, spiritually, physically, mentally and/or psychologically.

Many were overcome with tears of joy, as they knew that they knew that God really loved them. It sound kind of weird, but the first time that I had an inkling of how much God loved me, I cried like a little baby for half an hour, realising that He Loved ME, that He forgave me for my sins, and that He died to set me free of them.

After everyone as prayed with, we closed with another song of praise, chatted briefly with people who were much lighter and happier than they had been only hours earlier, packed up and headed home.

Words cannot properly describe moves of the Holy Spirit. It is experiential. I can tell you everything I know, which is really not much, and describe in detail what I saw, if I could remember it, but at best I can only describe my personal experience, and God was moving in about 23 lives last night. So, the above is merely a Reader's Digest version of something wonderful that happened because God is Love.

3 comments:

Joshua S. said...

Michael:

Your "digest" description of the seminar event reads like a prayer.

"If you are going to lead into a time with the Holy Spirit, what better lead in is there than time with Jesus? Well, after the Adoration time was over, Fr. Sam Johnson did not remove the Blessed Sacrament from the altar, but decided to leave Jesus present throughout the seminar time. When you think about it, what could be better than to have Jesus present while the Holy Spirit is invited to work in the lives of believers?"

Wow! After a stage management coup like that, could the seminar have been anything else but a roaring revelation for all present?

Michael, you are making me envious. Isn't that "aiding and abetting" sin? ;-)

Thank you, Michael.

mbrandon8026 said...

Dear Brother Joshua:

I pray that I am not leading you into the occasion of sin, or aiding and abetting.

It was a beautiful evening, and those were my observations as best I could remember them, immediately after I got home, and found (no surprise) that I could not go to sleep.

I find myself somewhat at a loss for words to PROPERLY describe what happened. I can only say that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit want to be a part of our lives, and They delight in our submission to their love.

I want to do a follow up post, when my brain fog clears, of some deeper thoughts that came to me.

God Bless You, Brother

Joshua S. said...

Michael:

I has assumed as much, and look forward to reading your reflections once they have distilled themselves down to their essence in your heart and soul.

I was chatting with a friend the other day. R. had called to wish me a happy birthday. R. is my oldfest friend on this Earth. We have been friends for almost 50 years.

I was bringing R. up to speed about the health challenges I am currently confronting, and how I am confronting them. The issue of prayer came up. R. said to me, "I'm not worried about you. You are in such a state of grace, and God takes care of His Shepherds. You'll be fine." Coming from R., a very committed lifelong Eastern Rite Catholic, these words mean a lot to me.

I love the whole concept of "state of grace". I want to be a model citizen of the State of Grace. I always have. I continue to work on it.

Just an observation from one work-in-progress to another.