Recently, I had the honor — the pleasure to again join with Protestant pastors in the area where I live. I joined with them for prayer-before-breakfast, followed by a book-sharing discussion. The book is a provocative one that clergy everywhere would do well to look at — it’s called Un-Christianand written by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. At any rate, we finished our Christian clergy meeting with a business discussion of various pastoral and budget matters for this fellowship group.
These ministers are decidedly Evangelical as to style, including Baptists, Methodists, a Four Square Gospel Church and other faiths. I was the only Catholic representative. Morning prayer with these men is very ‘free-form’ — voicing expression of what is on their minds and hearts. We lifted up all area churches, programs for youth, those who are sick…. we prayed for America, for the elections, for elected officials, etc. There was prayer for our own sinfulness and failures. I find myself quite comfortable in this milieu — although you would guess it to be quite different than our Catholic forms of prayer… different of course than our worship in a liturgical setting.
Have you been around evangelical-oriented believers? I have read recently that the characteristics of these believers include the call for all to come to a conversion in their lives. (Seems to me that’s the way John the Baptist and Jesus started their missions!). Evangelical folks call for a renunciation of a passionless Christianity — do we not recall the words of Jesus about being lukewarm? Of course the Bible means a great deal to these folks — as it does or should to us.
You might ask why I bring this topic up on this Catholic Family Podcast venue? One of the Spirit-filled Protestant Churches in the Midwest would seem to be the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. (Which is not to be confused with the IHOP that many know after weekend Mass attendance!) The K.C. leader is Mike Bickle — and he has written about having a passion for Jesus. Here’s a quote from pastor Mike: “Passionless Christianity, so common today, is no threat to the devil. Focused on concepts and activities to the neglect of heartfelt affection and obedience to God, it brings no pleasure to God’s heart. It doesn’t bring pleasure (even) to the believer. But true Christianity sparks a flame in human spirit. It ignites the heart with holy fervency for Jesus.”
Did you catch those words about people having a ‘focus on concepts and activities?’ Hmmm… I sometimes feel that way about our churches. You know: we must have a women’s group… or we must have a men’s association. We need a director of religious education… Yes — these are important ideas in an organized parish or church. But if I said we had an opening for someone to lead a program called ‘Falling in love with Jesus all over again,’ I wonder who would show up? Who would want to volunteer?
The words from Scripture about being lukewarm come back to me often. It seems to me that many who are in parish organizations enter them because they have somehow become convinced that ‘organization’ is what the church is about. Well… call me evangelical…. or call me Charismatic… or call me anti-organization… what I sometimes wish to see is the spirit and zeal like that we often see in new parents. Brand new parents who are on fire with the potential of a new child God has given them. I’d like to see this in our Catholic worship… I’d like to see it in some of our church organizations.
I just read an article about a Catholic Church that doesn’t have pews or benches in part of the main area of the church. It’s carpeted and people can kneel or sit on their haunches during Mass. Some folks kneel, and during the Consecration, they bend at the waist and put their heads down on the carpet. Yes, I’ll bet it sounds strange to most Catholic folk… but where this action comes from is a passionate demonstration of the reality of Christ-present during the holiest of moments this side of eternity. In another church that I was a part of for awhile, I saw ladies who always… always double-genuflected — meaning they genuflected on both knees when they came into church or were leaving. Why? To honor God and to atone for those who don’t even bother to genuflect as they walk past the tabernacle or on entry or exit from pews. How does this make you feel?
Well — this isn’t a radical or veiled request to rip out the pews in our churches. No such thing! It’s a prayerful hope for some who read this to be inspired. To want to add passionate faith practice to their lives. And if they begin to do that, maybe this ‘exposed’ passion and love for Christ will carry over into passionate parenting and passionate caring for others. May any who heed this call recognize that the rewards for doing this are almost certain not to come in the here-and-now — but will come after the final curtain. That’s okay… it really is. Because passionate worship and the fire of real love is what awaits those who join the eternal kingdom that Jesus promised. (Note: I’ve already asked Jesus if I can be on the praise-team in the next life!)
Pastor Mike Bickle said that God intended our souls to be captured, consumed and enthralled with Jesus. Does your family worship and home life seem passionate and enthralling? How would you like a change? Tell Jesus you’d like to put your head down — maybe starting just a little bit during the consecration. Tipping your body toward his throne… his tabernacle. That might just start something new and passionate in your heart. Can I get an AMEN on that?
Blessings. Deacon Tom