A beautiful sunny Sunday morning coaxed me from a dreamless sleep before my alarm sounded. I got up, roused my son and after eating breakfast, washing and getting ourselves dressed, we walked to Church: our first visit for a few weeks.
Todays readings were:
Our vicar is a stand-in whilst the parish is between vicars. He’s a lovely chap who has been part of our community for as long I can remember (30 years or more) and who seems to run the churches in our parish (two of them) in the absence of a vicar. He does this without pay, as I understand. What strikes me most about him, is his conviction. His conviction can be too much for some people, but as far as I am concerned, I want to hear from people who for whatever reason, have an unshakeable faith in their spiritual path.
In his sermon, he explained that the reading in Acts describes the first birthday of the Church: the first coming together of the disciples after Jesus had ascended (please do correct me here, if I have made any errors). He skipped over the rushing wind sound described in the second verse but talked of how those gathered were filled with the Holy Spirit and how we should make room for the Holy Spirit to enter us.
One thing that interested me, is that the sound of rushing wind precipitated the expression of spiritual gifts amongst those in attendance. The description of the sound reminded me very much of the sensation of leaving one’s body which is described generally as ‘vibrations’ in any number of books on the subject (see authors Robert Monroe; Robert Bruce; Robert Peterson; Jurgen Ziewe, Marilynn Hughes). All of these authors describe out-of-body-experiences (‘OBEs’) as being preceded by intense vibrations and loud rushing sounds. Indeed, my own early OBE’s were characterised by these exact sensations and so I wonder whether the rushing wind sound described in the was not actually a physical wind, but ‘vibrations’ experienced en-mass by the disciples?
Verses 16 and 17 of Acts 2 also caught my attention:
16 But this is that, which was spoken by the [l]Prophet Joel,
17 [m]And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon [n]all [o]flesh, and your sons, and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
Whilst it would be easy to look at my own night time journals, written since 2005, as well as the plethora of blogs written by countless men and women of all ages concerning their personal spiritual experiences, to conclude that these surely, are the last days of which Joel prophecised, I would argue that every generation could have said the same. Rather than join the doom mongers (although in all honesty I regularly count myself in their number!) I’d pefer to consider this from a microcosmic perspective and suggest that the ‘last days’ spoken of are the last days of spiritual ignorance within the individual.
During the period of my own spiritual awakening, I had some startling precogntive dreams. The reference to portents in heaven above and signs in the earth below, as well as blood, fire and smoky mist, all have a flavour of daoist imagery to my mind and if I ever have the time, I will investigate this more thoroughly.
As for The Gospel reading, the vicar conspicuously avoided even mentioning verses 12 to 14…
13 And whatsoever ye ask in my Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask anything in my Name, I will do it.
…but instead emphasised the proceeding verse stating that if we do not truly love Jesus we fall into sin!
But looking at verses 12-14, here we have Jesus telling Philip that the faithful, the truly faithful, will be capable of doing the works he does. And not only that, they will do greater works. I don’t see, in my church at least, the sick being healed and miracles taking place. In 2000 years, I see that organised Christian religion has amassed millions of followers and countless millions in wealth, but in terms of miracles, the cupboards are bare. It saddens me to say that whilst Christendom has succeeded in keeping the narrative of Jesus’ life alive, it has failed in its primary purpose which is to hand individuals the key to the door to the Kingdom of Heaven which as you well know, is to be found within you.
It’s no wonder that the churches fail in this if our vicars avoid even discussing what Jesus meant or intended when he said those words to Philip.
We need to open ourselves up to the possibility of doing greater works than Jesus. We need to dwell in the wonder of what that possibility would feel like. We need to encourage one another to explore our relationship with the Holy Spirit and ask in our prayers to hear it’s rushing wind and to be lifted out of our spiritual ignorance. We need to request in prayer to meet and be guided by the Advocate or Comforter of whom Jesus speaks and to make our life purpose the goal of becoming the Christed version of ourselves that God and Jesus intended us to be.