Starting at the start

I’ve written before about the way we seem to think that Holy Spirit needs to wait before coming into our services and joining us.  We have organised our church meetings so that we sing the faster, more upbeat songs first, before getting more contemplative when we are ready for Holy Spirit to come and begin to minister to and through us.

What if if when we walked in to a room, Holy Spirit was there waiting for us? What if we didn’t need to invite Him each time we wanted to have a meeting? What if we started at 100 miles an hour rather than building up to it and just as we get close to top speed have to bring it all to a close because we have run out of the allotted time?

Recently, I walked into a room where it felt like that was exactly what was happening. I was there to worship, minister and listen to teaching, as I have several time before. this time was a bit different though. The chairs had been moved away so that people could move freely. There was already an expectancy in the room.

As I walked around, at times it felt like there were bursts of electricity, like the sort you may get from a van der Graaff generator. It was like heaven was there – all you had to do was to reach out and touch it.

I had a picture of a ‘moving walkway’, like the sort you find between airport terminals or in some large train stations. The whole point of these things is to move large numbers of people in the same direction as quickly as possible. As the distance to be traveled is often large, the effort needed to travel that distance is reduced, as the moving walkway takes the strain. One can move five to ten steps with the effort of just one.  As with the Van der Graaff picture above, I felt that there was an invitation to step onto something that was going to move us a significant distance down our Christian experience, with very little effort from us. All we had to do was to step on to the walkway. Of course, it would be possible to reach the same destination with hard work, dedication and effort, but at least for that evening, I felt that God was saying – let me do the hard work, just come along for the ride. (the walkway in this picture was a bit strange in that it was possible to step onto it wherever one was – the journey and destination were the same)

What I found interesting about this was that we didn’t have to wait for the worship to start for this experience to take place. Holy Spirit was there already, waiting for us. It was as if He had been attracted by the hunger expressed in the building in days leading up to this particular event, and He had remained, waiting, expectant and ready to bless again, in greater measure than before.

The concept that God might simply “be” in a place isn’t a new one. Way back at creation, the Spirit of God was “hovering over the surface of the deep”. The Israelite knew that the Ark of the Covenant was where God could be found and where He met them. Later, the Holy place in the Temple was where the priests would ‘meet’ with God.

I really do believe that we can create an environment that attracts heaven. It really does matter what happens in a space before we meet. When we worship ‘in Spirit and in truth’ heaven comes. Others will notice. What heaven has to offer is attractive. And what happens in a building matters.

The thing is that not everyone has access to their church building before the weekly service. I would love it if ‘life’ meant we could (and would) meet every day to worship, to create an atmosphere that makes heaven turn its head and come to join us, but experience says that isn’t realistic (yet!) The building we can make sure is available for Holy Spirit to invade at all times is ourselves. Imagine what our church services might be like if we turned up on a Sunday, already on the moving walkway, accelerating towards whatever was on heavens heart for that day. What would that look like?

I imagine it would be different for each of us, and different each time we stepped on. It might feel like peace. It might feel like joy, with outrageous laughter. It might feel like courage, and we rush out to tell the world about the Jesus who loves them. There might be a weightiness and we might find ourselves unable to stand. The only thing we could be sure of is that if the destination is heavens heart, it would be worth the ride.

Let’s not wait for the third song this weekend. Let’s arrive ready to experience all that heaven has for us this week. And lets keep the building that hosts Holy Spirit here on earth a hospitable place so that we don’t have to work at church next week either.