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Expansive

As I reflect on this issue the word that comes to mind is expansive. This is the issue for Ascension and Pentecost, two days that are all about expanding. When Christ ascended into heaven his work did not end; it expanded. Christ now sits at God’s right hand ruling the world. Christ is the sovereign Lord, and not just of those who recognize his lordship. He is Lord of all. At Pentecost we see the expansive grace of God in the giving of the Holy Spirit. We see the idea of who is “in” and who is “out” expanding beyond a specific people group as people of many languages and lands understand the message preached. At Pentecost the body of Christ expands, and 3,000 people are baptized.

I think of the word expansive when I consider the worship series “Everyday Church” (p. 3), the articles “The Heart of Worship” (p. 12) and “Pentecost and Missional Worship” (p. 25), and the Q&A “Sunday’s Prayer and Monday’s Work” (p. 16). Each of these helps us to expand our understanding of who the church is and what our task is. We are the church 24/7, so whatever we do needs to be informed and formed by our faith, and our worship needs to be formed by what we do. We cannot divorce our day-to-day living from our worship. Christ is Lord of all, and as Christians we are called to go forth in his name wherever we find ourselves and whatever we find ourselves doing at work and home, while driving down the road, or writing a Facebook post.

At Pentecost we see the expansive grace of God in the giving of the Holy Spirit.

In the Pentecost service “The Spirit is Present” (p. 30) our understanding of the Spirit’s work is also expanded. The Spirit didn’t appear on the scene at Pentecost, but was already present at creation, during the exodus, and in the lives of leaders and prophets. Likewise the Spirit continues to move throughout the world. As Christians we need to have an expansive view of the Spirit, to recognize that our brand of Christianity does not hold the Spirit captive, and that the Spirit is not limited to working through Christians or even people, but is present and working in many different ways.

I also encourage each of you to read the Reverend Scott Hoezee’s article, “Holy Wings” (p. 28). Though addressed to pastors, everything he says can be equally applied to the work of planning and leading the rest of worship as well. Hoezee calls all of us to expand our concept of how the Spirit works and to stop defining particular styles or methods as more or less Spirit-filled.

Expansive is a good word for us to consider. The Father’s love is expansive. Christ’s reign is expansive. The Spirit’s work is expansive. Grace is expansive. As Christ’s followers we too need to practice expansiveness as a spiritual discipline and free our imaginations to consider what that may look like.