I've been involved in churches that had open participation and attempted to follow the Holy Spirit now for around 30 years!! Over this time, a number of gatherings stand out. Looking back, they were when the Holy Spirit was clearly leading. I'd like to describe a few of them for you.
We started a church in a low income housing project. Our times together were unusual, to say the least. Here's a description of one of them.
We usually took plenty of food to our gatherings. It was a way of giving to them in a non-financial way. And of course, they provided some of the food too. There were maybe twenty of us there on this occasion, and we were just finishing the meal when a commotion broke out outside the tiny apartment of the person of peace where we met.
One of the adults, James, went out to investigate, and the usual trouble maker, a boy of 9 or so, was fighting with one of the other kids. So James dragged the offender upstairs and started talking with him, telling him if he behaved that way and cussed out the wrong adult in that environment, he was likely to end up getting shot or beaten up. Then Rosa, our person of peace went upstairs to join the fray, and she and James started arguing about how to bring some discipline into the boy's life. (This is church!)
Finally things settled down, and the adults gathered indoors while the kids went outside to play. James opened things up by asking, "How does a Christian handle it when he really hates someone?"
Was this the Holy Spirit? We thought so, and the next half hour or so was spent in looking at some Scriptures on this topic, with everyone sharing from their experiences, and contributing to the discussion. We also touched on how to discipline kids, and how followers of Jesus handle it when they disagree with each other.
Someone suggested we pray about what we had learned. Was this the Holy Spirit's prompting? Of course! So we spent time praying for each person there, laying hands on them and making the prayers relevant to their situations. They were short prayers, so each person prayed several times.
Then we invited the kids in. They love to sing, and so we spent time in worship and praise. At one point I looked up, and there were two kids, aged maybe 7 and 9, singing their hearts out, faces raised, eyes closed. It may have been loud and out of tune, but I thought to myself, "Jesus, you love this!"
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