Commitment-Phobe That’s the Spirit
You may have heard about the Alpha away day – you may even have gone on one. It is the “Holy Spirit day”. It covers questions like: Who is the Spirit? What does the Spirit do? How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit? It is not called “the speaking in tongues day” but that is what rumours and a quick search on Google brought up for me. I avoided hearing too much about it before going, but I neither expected nor wanted anything weird happening to me.
On the day, we arrive at our retreat and meet two other Alpha groups. We are given a whistle-stop tour of who the Holy Spirit is in the Bible. During a break, our group leader defines the gifts of the Spirit: Visions, prophecy, speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues. I say: “It’s OK if the Spirit gifts you with making lovely cups of tea for people for the rest of your life, right?” Our leader agrees that this is also important.
The session about what the Holy Spirit does is down to earth. We get stories about the joy of your football team winning, a joke about an unhappy marriage that needs to be filled with the Spirit, reflections on healing and the power of the Spirit in prayer. It’s all surprisingly normal. We are invited to stand and pray in an “old fashioned way”, as the early Jews and Christians would have done, palms upwards to God, inviting and opening, vocalising our prayer or praise. We are encouraged to let go of the doubts and the worries we are carrying like a heavy rucksack. And, as I ponder my rucksack of worry, and try to open up, I find that it is impossible to ask the Spirit in while giving yourself a hard time. It is impossible to be that open while feeling pain, so I do a lot of instant forgiving. I sort out some things in my head that have been there for years, and I get a huge sense of forgiveness and joy. Tears are streaming down my face and I’m smiling, some music is playing and I start to say thank you – a lot…
This is an extract from the February 2015 edition of Reform.