I’m nestled in our 5th wheel at Yuma Arizona this morning contemplating the action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Helen and me. In prayer yesterday, I had meditated on the discourse between Nicodemus and Jesus recounted in John 3: 6-8 and the fact that, like the wind, the Holy Spirit operates in our lives often in mysterious ways. This morning’s first reading from 1 Peter [5: 1-4] struck me. It’s amazing how you can read a scripture numerous times and then suddenly it speaks to your directly. The word “elder” struck me first. Helen and I certainly qualify to be so described. While this scripture was obviously recording Peter’s direction to his fellow Apostles, and the church leaders of his day, it nevertheless applies to all of us who are disciples of Jesus. If we are in leadership, whether we are clergy or laity, as a Disciple of Jesus we are called to “tend the flock” that the Holy Spirit delivers into our charge. If we are parents, then the connection is obvious. We are called to be examples to our children and grandchildren for the nuclear family is the smallest “cell” of church.
This got me thinking about spiritual transformation, discipleship, and outreach. As some of you know, Helen and I are involved in leadership at St Joseph’s at Vanderhoof, B.C. Our faith community has taken the initial steps in moving from “maintenance” to “mission”. Our first and probably most important task is to help facilitate the development of “intentional disciples”. At the same time, our community is doing some strategic planning around our infrastructure. We are in the process of identifying our core values out of which we can develop a Vision for our community that will assist us to make sound management decisions with respect to infrastructure, among other things. This Vision must lend itself to the whole issue of spiritual transformation of the members of our faith community, which is a precursor to intentional discipleship. The temptation we will face in this process is to slide back into maintenance. If that happens we will know that our goal of spiritual transformation is not being properly addressed. We can expect the enemy to be active indeed in running interference.
As we survey the landscape of our own spiritual lives, we likewise need to identify our spiritual goals so that we can embrace a Vision of spiritual transformation for ourselves. In the context of our faith community at St Joseph’s, this will be a priority for those disciples involved in leadership for it is these “elders” who will lead the movement to “mission”. It may seem like a daunting task. The Spirit however is blowing us in this direction and we can be confident that we will succeed with the Spirit’s help. It is so important to our outreach programs that we, as St Peter said, “be examples to the flock”. Those of us in leadership need to so “burn” with a desire to facilitate spiritual renewal within ourselves that it becomes contagious. Part of our Parish Vision therefore has to be to develop processes that will facilitate this renewal so that we can truly ride the wind of renewal prompted by the Holy Spirit.