If you’re like me, and were raised in the most previous generation of the American Church, the more painful parts of human existence didn’t really make an appearance in the course of religious conversations. There was talk about doctrine, and piety, and all “those people” that were sinners, but the only real insight that could be given to those that were hurting was that they needed to read their Bible more, trust Jesus more, sin less, so on and so forth.
Suffering was unconsciously assumed to be something outside of the everyday experience of the “victorious” and “justified and sanctified” Christian. People responded to the suffering of others with a cautious distance, thinking something had gone horribly wrong with their life, God’s providence, or their souls.
And then I had the privilege of sitting under amazing teaching in college that really brought suffering to the fore. I was encouraged that suffering was not “supposed” to be an aberration in life, but rather the expectation of how things are. We didn’t pursue it, but we certainly didn’t need to, because it would find us.
The wisdom and beauty of the Church Calendar never ceases to amaze me.
After the Holy Day of Pentecost happened a few Sundays ago, I turned to my favorite daily prayer site, MorningPrayer.is. This site always has a banner along the top displaying the current church calendar season. I was surprised to see, days after Pentecost, the words “Ordinary Time” splayed across the site.
Isn’t it the season of Pentecost?
So, I googled it, and I found out that there’s no such thing as Pentecost Season.
Pentecost is just a single, holy day in the Christian Church Calendar. It’s when we celebrate the falling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon Christian believers, 50 days after the Resurrection (Easter). Kind of a big deal, right? Might it deserve a season?
And though it’s not a season, it’s actually far more beautiful than that.
I don’t know about you, but too often I divorce spirituality from the Holy Spirit.
Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that “spirituality” is a matter between my spirit and the Holy Spirit. But I too often define spirituality as fundamentally being about my spirit–stirring it up and syncing it up to God. Too often, when contemplating my own spirituality, my thoughts first turn to how I can ” feel the Spirit more”.
If I’m honest, I too often think that a healthy and vibrant spirituality is ultimately defined by intense spiritual experience (emotions, gifts, fruits, and such). And yes, these are definitely products of a vibrant Spirituality, but don’t we too often pursue the product, and ultimately miss the point? Most of the time, I think that if I simply achieve those “experiences”, I have been “successful.”
True “Spirit-uality” is not first and foremost about the state of my spirit. Instead, it is about developing a dynamic vitality with the Holy Spirit. It’s about being swept up in a force greater than myself–a person greater than myself.