Friday, September 29, 2006

Holy Spirit Rain Down On Me

I just read an awesome article in Christianity Today (one of my favorite weekly reads, I highly recommend it!) about how Pentacostal styles of worship are beginning to change the devotional lives of Christians beyond Pentacostal churches. A selection from this article is below:

Until that moment, I had been dutifully following scholarly debates about whether baptism in the Holy Spirit was primarily about holiness or power. But these testifying scholars described Spirit baptism in terms of something deeper than either one. Indeed, they all put their finger on one main effect: a new, joyous sense of communion with a loving God who counted every hair on their heads and watched over them every minute. The central moment of their Pentecostal experience had opened them to a deep well of living water from which everything else flowed; it had opened them to the personal, relational presence of the Living God. (Read the whole thing here).

This article reminded me of a wonderful lecture given by Baha'i artist and professor,
Erica Batdorf at the Baha'i Association of Mental Health Professionals Annual Conference this year which was focused on "Authentic Morality, Mental Health and Healing". Erica talked about the importance of the mind/body/spirit connection to the healing process and that worship itself can promote healing when it is allowed to be experienced fully in mind, body and spirit. She encouraged devotional experience that allows for deep physical experience of the divine through both sound and movement. It was a wonderful talk she gave and I'm still thinking about its implications for my own spiritual life as I tend to experience Baha'i spirituality in the way that she describes. Just as the Pentacostal style of worship is exerting a transforming influence on Christians, there is a parallel process occuring in the Baha'i world where forms of worship such as Baha'i gospel music and the devotional style of the Black Men's Gathering are becoming increasingly popular, appealing to Baha'is of all backgrounds. I believe that as time goes on, and the global, grass roots movement of encouraging decentralized, home-based worship that Baha'is are currently involved in (referred to by the deceptively simple term "devotional gathering") spreads and is influenced by the kind of worship detailed in the Christianity Today article, that Baha'is will discover that they too have a "holy spirit religion".

Then will the manifold favors and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind. He will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe, and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul. Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude. He will discover in all things the mysteries of Divine Revelation, and the evidences of an everlasting Manifestation.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 267)

It is my hope that the breaths of the Holy Spirit will so be breathed into your hearts that your tongues will disclose the mysteries, and set forth and expound the inner meanings of the Holy Books; that the friends will become physicians, and will, through the potent medicine of the heavenly Teachings, heal the long-standing diseases that afflict the body of this world; that they will make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dead to come alive; that they will awaken those who are sound asleep.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 274)