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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, May 21, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 15:26–27; 16:4b–15

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (NRSV)

This text centers on the Advocate, which we often understand to be the Holy Spirit. For many of us in the Presbyterian church, when it comes to the Trinity we can overemphasize the creator God compared with our language about Jesus or the Holy Spirit. When I was in seminary, many of my peers came from charismatic traditions that focused their language of God heavily on the Holy Spirit. They felt free to move their bodies in worship, were present to the living nature of the Spirit working in their lives today, and listened to the Spirit’s truth in ways I wasn’t used to. I confess that when I was younger I looked down upon movement in worship, but I learned so much from these peers. My friendship with these peers made me remember a piece of my childhood story.

I love to dance, and growing up I was in ballet and show choir. I remember some powerful dancing experiences in which I encountered something more moving than I can describe, more powerful than something I can simply just tap into. I’m realizing today that I was encountering the Holy Spirit viscerally, through dance, through movement, in my body. This, of course, is a reality in my life, for someone who loves to dance! And yet movement in worship was not part of my church culture. 

There are many beautiful ways to worship and encounter God individually and communally. We all may meet the Spirit in different ways. I wonder, though, do we cut ourselves off from the Spirit when we only think of worship in particular ways? Do you have Spirit-full memories from childhood? How do you experience the Spirit today?

Holy Spirit, move us today so that we may experience your truth viscerally! Amen.

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

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