“ Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord."
--Romans 12: 11--
Friday, March 4, 2022
In this pastoral letter I want to address the quality characteristic named “Passionate Spirituality” and this is a quality characteristic that each of us needs to take some ownership for. That is true for each of the preceding and following quality characteristics. Neither of these quality characteristics can be present in any congregation unless they are first present in the lives of the members who make up the congregation.
Passionate Spirituality is, in a nutshell, a passion about the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. It is more than agreement with what that mission and ministry look like. It is more than a willingness to consider offering material support of time, talent and treasure to the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. It is about the actual dirt on hands and sweat on brow participation in the mission and ministry of Christ Jesus through George Street United Church.
Is spirituality, (prayer, scripture reading and service) something you crave or is it something you can do without? Is prayer more often a matter of reflex or an act of desperation? Are you aware of what your spirituality type might be (there are 9 basic types)? Do you know where that spirituality type is addressed in the life and work of George Street United Church? Have you ever been asked these questions before? Have you ever thought of asking them yourself? Are you excited by the questions, or do they make you roll your eyes?
The problem with normal is not that you miss it when it is gone, it is that it makes your world infinitely smaller than God ever intended it to be. We are meant to grow and to grow we need to be challenged in big and small ways. Passionate Spirituality pushes us to reconsider our thinking about spirituality in general and to become devoted to improving our spiritual quality day after day after day. The only thing normal about it would be the constant effort to grow/be changed. This requires some activity on our part, how much or how little depends on the change that is being sought after and when you want to be able to identify the results.
At this point, in case you were wondering, there is no actual endpoint. We continue to grow until God calls us home and we are transformed by the grace of God into the beings God desired us to be. The magnitude of the transformation is impacted by how much change we can manifest prior to God calling us home.
The good news is that none of this growth is left for you to accomplish alone and in isolation from others. Most of our growth towards passionate spirituality happens best when we have trusted friends working alongside of us and addressing their own growth at the same time. When we are aware of our spirituality type, we learn how to feed our spiritual needs and finding satisfaction in that feeding we develop a passion to sharing with others what we found to work for ourselves. The more we talk about this work and the more we listen to others testify of the work that they have undertaken them more comfortable we become addressing our spirituality and taking responsibility for it.
What happens next?
As your passion grows you will not be able to keep it to yourself. You will find ways to share your passion with others. The sincerity of your passion is going to either attract people to learn more about it or, it is going to repel others and they will not want to know more about it. It is easy to honour either response and that will honour and respect both those who are intrigued and those who are horrified.
The ones who are curious to know more will want to participate in the things you have been doing to learn more about how they can awaken such passion in their own spiritual pursuits. And from that the Church begins to grow in the quality characteristic of Passionate Spirituality and in the quantity of people wanting an opportunity to experience deeper and more fulfilling spirituality for themselves.
As people of passion gather the more reach their passion has and the deeper their passion is felt in the wider community. The more it resonates with the world around us the more compelling we become as a place to gather and grow deeper. We offer something to the world that the world desires and maybe like many of us have experienced, has never considered the questions that need to be asked to help us understand what it is that we have the deepest need for.
Even Jesus needed to take time to pray. Even Jesus needed a group to push him harder.
Grace and peace to you and may you keep one another safe.
-Reverend John Maich