Spirit & Fire

On December 4, 2016, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Spirit & Fire By Durrell Watkins Advent 2 (2016) Marcus Borg (NT scholar): spoke about precritical, critical, post-critical thinking Precritical – accept everything taught/told without question. (Santa is real) Critical – question everything, skeptical about preconceived answers. (Santa may not be real) Postcritical – reclaim the old with new, more nuanced understanding. (Yes Virginia, there […]

Spirit & Fire
By Durrell Watkins
Advent 2 (2016)

Marcus Borg (NT scholar): spoke about precritical, critical, post-critical thinking

Precritical – accept everything taught/told without question.
(Santa is real)

Critical – question everything, skeptical about preconceived answers.
(Santa may not be real)

Postcritical – reclaim the old with new, more nuanced understanding.
(Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus – Santa as a symbol of generosity and kindness, which are very real qualities and very needed in our world…Santa is the face of something true, whether or not Santa factually exists)

I used Santa as an example…I could have used the saints, angels, any archetypal image that has meaning beyond its own factual existence

For the first almost 20 years of my life, I was in the precritical phase of my faith life.

For the next 20-25 years, I was in the critical phase of my faith life.

In recent years, I’ve been entering the post-critical phase – reclaiming and infusing with new meaning that which I once embraced uncritically and then dismissed because I could not take it literally, I now am trying on again with new appreciation, new understanding. I now celebrate that something can be true without being factual, doubt doesn’t destroy my faith, it becomes part of it, and part of its renewal. I have discovered the joy of reclaiming old symbols and not only giving them new life, but allowing them to give me new life.

There’s an old song I learned in the 80s during a charismatic phase, when i was searching for my place in the world of faith. I forgot all about it until recently when it came to mind out of the blue…i guess my subconscious was ready to reclaim it:

It’s that holy Ghost and fire and its keeping me alive, keeping me alive, keeping me alive; it’s that holy Ghost and fire and its keeping me alive, Jesus is keeping me alive.

The song invites me today to rethink and reclaim the notion of baptism, and the idea of being immersed in spirit.

Baptism – an immersion into the life of the spiritual community. Whether water is used or not in a ritual doesn’t matter to me, as long as one is fully immersed in hope, compassion, courage, and a passion for building a spiritual community that can change lives.

John the baptizer said, “I immerse you in water [to symbolize a cleansing of your soul], but one is coming after me who will immerse you in spirit and fire.”

Spirit is life, energy, power…and fire symbolizes passion.
We think of hot lovers and fiery tempers and flaming queens…it all represents passion and extravagance. Bon fires are thrilling, crackling fire places are inviting and comforting, flames are sterilizing, fire on a stove can cook delicious meals, fire in the belly suggests a drive to achieve something important.

The spirit of Jesus lights a fire under us.
Its the spirit of justice.
Its the spirit of hope.
Its the spirit of generosity.
Its the spirit of inclusion.
Its the spirit of healing.

The one who baptized with spirit and fire touched the untouchable and loved the unlovable and noticed the invisible and gave voice to the voiceless. How I want us to be baptized with that spirit and fire!

Building, growing, outreaching…improving property in order to use it more effectively to minister to more people.
Improving ministries, creating new ministries, reaching out in new ways, calling us to deeper commitment…immersing ourselves in the spirit of Jesus, filling our souls with the fire he offered.
That’s what I am passionate about; that’s what I truly believe we are being called to achieve.

It’s that holy Ghost and fire and its keeping me alive, keeping me alive, keeping me alive; it’s that holy Ghost and fire and its keeping me alive, Jesus is keeping me alive.

Do you feel the spirit washing over you?
Do you feel the fire bursting forth through you?
If so, all that we have done will pale in comparison to what we are about to do…

We are the hands of God, the body of Christ, immersed in the spirit of Jesus and on fire to make a positive difference in the world. Spirit and Fire are keeping Sunshine Cathedral alive with purpose, and this is the good news! Amen.

(C) Durrell Watkins 2016

I am immersed in divine life!
May my soul be filled with…
The flames of hope and happiness,
The sparks of courage and compassion,
And a blazing desire to be, do, and give my best.
Amen.

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