New Conciousness, New Pentecost
May 2009 -Don Portwood
J. Philip Newell, author of the new book, Christ of the Celts: The Healing of Creation, spoke at a number of Twin City venues in May about Celtic Christian Spirituality. He writes, “There is a longing for peace deep within the human soul today. It is a yearning within us and between us in the most important relationships of our lives. It is a yearning among us as nations and as an entire earth community. It does not belong exclusively to the Christian soul or the Muslim soul or the Jewish soul. It belongs to the human soul. And it is cause for great hope. But how do we serve it? How do we set it free for the healing of our lives and world?” Newell says this new consciousness blowing through the world is a 2nd Pentecost; people waking up to the realization that we are all one, one with each other, one with other religions, one with creation, one with God. Listening for the heartbeat of God in all creation, listening to our deeper selves, we become aware of that yearning for oneness, for love, for wholeness. We’re realizing it is not something we can have in isolation. The wellness and wholeness of our selves, depends on the wellness and wholeness of all: people, nations, creation.
Newell is aware of the challenges to this new consciousness. “Yet ranged against this longing for peace are some of the most threatening forces that history has seen. These are forces of fear and fragmentation. And they are wedded to the mightiest political powers and religious fundamentalisms of the world today.”
He also has a challenge for the Christian Church. “There is widespread disillusionment within the Christian household today. And by Christian household I am not referring solely to those who attend church. I am including the much vaster number of us who have grown up in Christian families or Christian cultures and who choose to have little to do with the church. There is despair about much of what Christianity has to offer. So many of its teachings and practices seem either irrelevant to the deepest yearnings of the human soul or flatly opposed to them. Why? Is it not in part because we have been taught to distrust our deepest yearnings rather than to see them as sacred? And is it not also because we have been given the impression that Christ comes to subdue or deny our deepest desires rather than to nurture and heal them?”
A new Pentecost Spirit is blowing through our world today (not a surprise to UCC’ers - “God is Still Speaking”). So listening to Philip Newell and pondering our upcoming Pentecost celebration on May 31st, I realized what an opportunity we at Lyndale have. Pentecost is the celebration of the birthday of the church. The Spirit was poured out at Pentecost on disciples who began to speak in many languages. One Spirit, many languages. And the church was born, grew and changed the world.
We practice a lot of what Philip Newell spoke about. Not a surprise, since I first attended a conference with him in Pennsylvania in 1993 or 1994. We are still discovering ways to put into practice the spirituality of inclusiveness, oneness, listening to our deepest sacred longings. But, how do we connect beyond superficial ways to one another? How do people looking for community break into the Lyndale community? How do we practice and teach the practices that nurture our whole lives…when too often we are so busy we don’t have time to really show up?
We’ve been meeting at Intermedia Arts for two months now. We’re beginning to adjust to the space. It’s been a big change, for children and adults alike. But we’re adjusting.
In this Pentecost and summer season we have the opportunity to continue to think about, pray about, move about what is being birthed in us. How the change we’re experiencing on
a local level is connected to the enormous changes, shifts, stirring throughout the world, stirring up very frightened reactions.
Because if we are one, we are going to have to change how we relate to the earth, other religions, other nations. Deeper than all the things that separate us that longing for oneness and peace is creating a new Pentecost….One spirit speaking through many languages.
In the midst of the change we are experiencing locally and the changes we all experience living in this day comes one question asked in many different ways for you/us to
ponder/pray about/listen for/ reflect on/move with.
1)What would make Lyndale Church more relevant in your life, offer more wholeness, vitality, community, service, compassion?
2)How could your spiritual journey be strengthened, deepened, joy-filled, transformative, nurturing, challenging?
3)What can you imagine might awaken and transform you as we all awaken to our deeper yearnings and crys?
4)Is there anything that you would find more helpful: spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, phone calls from members, Lyndale blogging conversations, knowing about
opportunities to serve through Families Moving Forward, Simpson Shelter, Workers Interfaith Network, Humane Immigration Reform, individual or group spiritual practices, bible study, book study, meditation groups, yoga?
5)What would assist your awakening, growth and dealing with change?
a)in worship on Sunday
b)Before or after worship on Sundays
c)During the week
6)What would have to be happening at Lyndale that was so contagious you couldn’t help but invite those who have given up on the church to check out this faith community?
7)What would make your worship/church/spiritual practice experience more spirited, meaningful, relevant?
8)What would feed you more deeply at the table we set? What would open you to the mystery that we are and live?
Like the early church we are in the beginning of something new. I seek your counsel are these many questions that are one question. So does the Congregational Life Committee
that has been in discussions about how to deepen community in the midst of difficult times in our world.
This season of Pentecost can be a season of formation and re-formation. Our time in the wilderness can be a time of growth, discovery, deepening, wholeness.