December 19, 2007

Dear Preacher

The vitality of a church’s worship will come and go, it will wax and wane in a pattern unpredictable to the naked eye.

Some Sundays it will be dead—you and they alike. End of story, except that grace abounds.

Many Sundays will be quite normal and familiar, and this is probably a good thing: a steady diet of meat and potatoes. After all, it is not necessary to remember what one ate a year ago Sunday. What matters is that one was sustained, meal by meal, until today.

Sadly, a few times a year, the congregation will be alive in the Spirit and you will be dead in yourself. This is a sad misfortune, a waste of precious time, but until sanctification is some day complete in you there is likely not much that can be done about it.

What you celebrate and embrace are those non-Easter Resurrection Days, when both you and God’s people are alive in the Spirit—hearts are pliable, minds are open, spirits are intertwined in a kind of sweetness and weight as palpable as it is inexplicable. Embrace these living Sundays when they come, but don’t hold on to them too tightly. Expecting them every week is likely expecting too much, and not at all charitable to others.

First of all, the Holy Spirit is busy brooding over a dying world.

Secondly, fresh water does so much more for a thirsty body.