Friday, January 11, 2008

The presidency of the Holy Spirit

"And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord." 1 Kings 8:10-11

Our forefathers used to call this "the presidency of the Holy Spirit," when the Holy Spirit would preside over the gathering of God's people in such a way as gently, wonderfully to take charge.

I have seen this. Doubtless, many of you have as well.

One Sunday morning at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena -- we were a mainstream church of scientists, real estate agents, stay-at-home moms, just normal folks -- my dad was preaching away. I was not paying much attention. Typical. But then, with no prompting from the pulpit at all -- dad was minding his own business, preaching Christ -- Ed Fischer quietly rose from his place in the choir, went down to the communion table at the front, and knelt in prayer. Then his wife Lita got up from her place and did the same, at his side. I thought, "Hmmm. That's odd." But then I was surprised to see many people from all over the church going forward and kneeling as one at the front, getting right with God. There was no emotionalism. There was no self-display. It was quiet, powerful. Dad was surprised. He hadn't planned on this or even foreseen it. He did not manipulate it. He wasn't even making an appeal. God did it, and dad yielded to the presidency of the Holy Spirit. He stepped back and went to prayer. The organist had the presence of mind to begin playing quietly, appropriately. The service took a surprising direction, in the glorious mercy and power of God. And although this experience was no panacea, and the next morning everyone went back to work in the usual way, still, God had visited us. God bent down and kissed us, bringing us closer to himself, clearing away some problems, opening up new possibilities.

We could never be the same again.