ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS May 11, 2023 The word "Obligation" carries with it a heaviness, as if just saying the word causes a person to sigh with a burdensome inward groan. Now, I don’t want to imply that we should never feel obligated to do something. A sense of duty or a commitment to a promise might be thought of as an obligation, and I think that’s fine. With that said, I do not believe we should view our Spiritual Gifts as some dreaded obligation. Living into our Spiritual Gifts may at times demand a great deal of us and even exhaust us, but I also believe there is life-giving joy experienced as our Spiritual Gifts find genuine purpose in the world.
A number of years ago, I was serving a church that had experienced some deep and painful conflict. On Saturday evening, I walked into the sanctuary and sat in every pew (not chairs in that sanctuary) and prayed that the Holy Spirit would sweep across the ache of whoever sat in that pew, bringing bring peace and healing. A few months later, as there had been some real healing in the congregation, I shared what I had done. A woman in the congregation who had not been very active in the life and ministry of the church approached me and asked if it would be possible for her to come and pray in the sanctuary every Saturday evening. She took it seriously and later explained that she had felt as if prayer was her Spiritual Gift but struggled to find a place where it could be expressed specifically. For more than a year, she was there every Saturday evening to pray, and it brought her a true sense of purpose and joy. And maybe it was just my inner-voice telling me something was different about the space, but I and others commented about how it felt like a true sanctuary, as if the prayer had changed what happened in that space. Expectation changes how we perceive, and there was a different expectation because someone chose to share her gift.
Whatever my gift might be, Gracious God, I am open to an opportunity where it might find purposeful expression that assists in the fulfillment of your dream. Amen.