Pentecost: Institute on Theology and Disability

""We never become truly spiritual by sitting down and wishing to become so."  Phillips Brooks

“”We never become truly spiritual by sitting down and wishing to become so.” Phillips Brooks

One thing I like about worship at Grace Covenant Presbyterian (GCPC) is, there’s so much to experience.  This past Sunday was Pentecost and the picture in the bulletin was the one above.  I remember thinking, what does a piano with flowers on it have to do with Pentecost?  The quote below gave me some clues but it wasn’t until later when I could see the relevance. (Actually I never did figure out what the piano had to do with Pentecost but I did figure out the quote.)   I suspect everyone in worship had different thoughts with some not finding any relationship at all. This is why I believe the Spirit is active on Sundays at GCPC  for it is there that the Spirit speaks to each one of us differently.

A couple of things the pastor Mark Ramsey said hit home.  “In the Gospels, even though we have these post-Easter appearances of Jesus, his followers don’t really stop long enough to enter a whole new life.  A slightly remodeled life, perhaps, but like all of us, it appears they didn’t like their routine disrupted.” Brain injury certainly disrupted my life.  I was a pastor, waltzing through the call process when wham, I ended up in intensive care in one hospital while my husband Michael ended up in another.

As is often the case in brain injury, I had no awareness of what had happened.  I figured I’d go through rehab and get back into the call process.  I WAS forced to stop and enter a whole new life but I didn’t really enter it for I figured I would go back to being a pastor again.  I knew things would be different – that my life would be remodeled – but I figured it would essentially be the same as before.

It took me several years before realizing my life was more than simply a remodeled one.  It was a whole new one – one I didn’t want but I was stuck with, for better or for worse.  The years went by and I worked as a volunteer chaplain at a retirement center in Atlanta and I continued to improve my cognitive function.  In fact even now I’m still improving my cognitive function.  I suspect this will be a life-long journey.

Mark shared a reflection of Shane Claiborne’s: “The more I read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination.”   Mark expounds on this, “Pentecost is the gift of Fascination, Renewing, Enlivening, Delighting-”  The idea of Pentecost as the gift of fascination never had occurred to me. However, the voice of Pentecost – the Spirit of the Risen Christ – is guiding me along my journey.

So where is that Spirit taking me?  I really don’t know.  I do know that Spirit brought me first to the UMKC Conservatory in Kansas City followed by work as a freelance musician.  The Spirit then brought me to Columbia seminary in Atlanta.  I wasn’t able to find a call so I worked at Barnie’s Coffee and Tea before finally serving a church. (In the process, I learned how to make cappuccino with the best of them!)  Now that Spirit has brought me here to Asheville, NC where I attend both Grace Covenant Presbyterian and Circle of Mercy congregation.  It has been a fascinating journey.

It seems the Spirit of the Risen Christ is taking me on a new journey.  I don’t know where this path will lead but I can’t help but remember the words in Isaiah 43 “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Institute on Theology and Disability

Institute on Theology and Disability

I have an opportunity to attend the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability in Toronto this summer.  It’s expensive, traveling is difficult for me and it’s not a good time for me to be spending $1600.  However, for some reason, I’ve not been able to give up the idea so I booked the airfare, and paid for the conference and room and board fees. Following the Spirit is sometimes difficult to do.  Am I hearing the Spirit of the Risen Christ or am I hearing my own wishes?  I don’t know.

In case I’m not hearing God correctly, Michael and I have committed to pay for this. Since we don’t have children’s shoes to buy and what-not, we don’t have many financial obligations so we’re able to make this commitment.  However, if you’d like to help me cover my expenses, you can do so. I’m a bit uncomfortable asking for financial support since I’m aware that many brain injury survivors are just making do with very little.  For them, the thought of going to a conference in Canada is not even an option.  While I don’t believe I’m better or more deserving than other brain injury survivor if you feel led to support me with this, you can send me a check for any amount.  If you need my address, email me directly at puffer61@gmail.com .

The quotation of Phillips Brooks in the bulletin seems to apply here. “We never become truly spiritual by sitting down and wishing to become so.” Mark said in his sermon that Christ always takes us places.  I can’t help but wonder where the Spirit of the Risen Christ is taking me as I continue this Spiritual journey.

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