Holy Week: contemplative and charismatic

The theme of our Holy Week was The Gethsemane Journey. Can the Pentecostal and contemplative blend? Why not? Although  the practices of the Pentecostal and the contemplative seem to be incompatible opposites they actually enrich and deepen each other! I saw this in our experience of Holy Week 2017. I handed the planning to our young pastoral staff: Ethel, Tom and Sarah. I told them the parameters was that we share with the church different practices of prayer both contemplative and charismatic. This was what they came up with.

Monday: Lectio Divina

Tuesday: Praying the Psalms

Wednesday: Prophetic prayer

Thursday: Intercessory prayer

Each evening would begin with time for people to be still and wait on God in silence with background instrumentals played over the speakers. Then there would be brief explanations of the prayer practice we would be doing. Followed by an hour for people to actually enter into the practice of prayer. The last segment would be a partaking of Holy Communion.

The worship hall would be made conducive with dim lights, devotional  instrumental music (except of the last evening when we had a live band), and the hall would be cleared of the usual auditorium seating so people could sit anywhere on the floor or chairs along the edges.

Personally I enjoyed each and every evening of Holy Week. It was no chore. The Lord was present each night to impart different insights and experiences. The first night a Scripture portion lighted up and shifted my posture towards a ministry matter. The second night I felt I was crying out to the Lord on behalf of the sick. The third night, I composed and sent prophetic prayers and words to three friends. The last night, I had to facilitate the intercession evening. However I enjoyed the soaking session with the live worship band. Whether contemplative or charismatic practices are used the common element is the presence and power of God.

Some of the participants who attended the Holy Week wrote about their experiences in this article in our church website: Holy Week: The Gethsemane Journey.

The whole Lent and Holy Week can possibly be a seasonal “curriculum” for personal and church renewal. How does your church use this season for God’s glory? Share with the readers what your church has done.

Pentecostals and Charismatics: the main difference

Pentecost: come Holy Spirit
Pentecostals and charismatics carried along by Spirit

“In 2011, there were an estimated 584 million Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians worldwide. They made up 8.5 percent of the world’s population and 27 percent of all Christians. There were 279 million Pentecostals and over 300 million Charismatics. Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity is second in size only to the Roman Catholic Church.” (Source: David Barrett, “Christian World Communions: Five Overviews of Global Christianity, AD 1800-2025,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Volume 33, No. 1, January 2009, 31.)

Pentecostals are Christians who believe that the gifts of the Spirit described in the New Testament like the gift of tongues, healing, and casting out demons, are available and expected to be experienced by God’s people today. Our worship is characterized by lively responses to a palpable sense of God’s presence. We are so named after what happened to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (read Acts 2) and our insistence that the essence of such experiences are to be normative for today.

Charismatics are believers who originally worship in mainline churches such as Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. They had Pentecostal experiences and hold almost similar beliefs and practices as Pentecostals, but continue to attend and serve in their traditional churches.

Admittedly, there is considerable overlap in usage of both terms and such strict definitions have become porous and interchangeable in the recent decade or two. Who cares anyway? Probably the theologian and the researcher.

Reminder: 8 June is Pentecost Sunday.

Neglected Pentecost

Pentecost: come Holy Spirit
Pentecost: come Holy Spirit

Why do we neglect Pentecost? We celebrate Good Friday and Easter, and even Palm Sunday. We have Lent but do we have “Pent”? The mainline churches have the church calender and lectionary that give at least a nodding acknowledgement to Pentecost Sunday. The shame is that it is the independent and Pentecostal churches that ignore this important opportunity to shed light on the vital and vitalizing ministry of the Holy Spirit, and to rejoice and give thanks for their precious heritage. I plead guilty. Perhaps we need to start a “Pent” – 10 days of waiting expectantly and praying for the Spirit’s empowering. Here are 10 suggestions:

  • We could encourage members to take extended time to pray in silence every day for 10 days until Pentecost Sunday.
  • Or encourage that members follow a 10 days reading plan that include all the relevant Scriptures in Old and New Testament about the coming person and work of the Spirit.
  • Be on the alert to the Spirit’s prompting to share the good news of grace to anyoneHhe directs during this period.
  • Be sensitive to give a prophetic word of encouragement, comfort and strengthening to someone who is weary and burdened.
  • Meet with other Christians in school, homes or workplace to pray with during the 10 days.
  • Reflect on your spiritual gift and how it has developed and how it has been deployed. What is God doing through your grace-gift?
  • Exalt Jesus in worship because that’s what the Spirit came to do. Use the gift of tongues, spiritual songs and hymns.
  • Pray for 10 nationalities living or working in Singapore: Vietnamese, Chinese and Indian nationals, Thais, Myanmese, Indonesians, Malaysians, Bangladeshis, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Taiwanese, and whoever else.
  • If you are a pastor, how about preaching a sermons series on the Holy Spirit and open the altar for prayer at the end.
  • Write a personal letter to the Holy Spirit appreciating Him for his faithful help and presence in your life.