pathways of prayer
Week 6 - The Charismatic path
Lord you are great and greatly to be praised!
awaken us to delight in your praises,
for you made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless
‘till they find their rest in you.
Theologian Andrew Murray said that "the Holy Spirit is nothing less than Divine Love descending to indwell us." Charismatic spirituality focuses on the immediacy of this internal experience of God and the consequent response of worship. So this pathway invites us to engage with our bodies and our emotions as well as our intellect. The tradition is most expressed in the Pentecostal church which is named after the dramatic experience of the Holy Spirit upon the first Christians at Pentecost as classically read in Acts chapter 2. The word 'charismatic' comes from charism = gift; the Holy Spirit is seen as a gift and He imparts gifts to his people. This experience leads to prayer and praise.
The prayer of praise will be at the centre of this week's service. How do we praise God - particularly in times of looming darkness as we approach Holy Week?
- British people are notoriously reserved! But what events or occasions can you think of where people throw caution to the winds and express their emotions in public? Have you ever had a moment when you felt so full of joy that your heart would burst?
- Think through the emotional ups and downs that Jesus' disciples experienced as they accompanied Jesus from Palm Sunday through Good Friday to Easter Day.
The 'ark' of the Lord was a most sacred cabinet. It was the focus for the presence of God within the temple in Jerusalem. So when the ark returned from captivity to God's city it was a moment of great solemnity and also great joy and celebration. A thousand years later, when Jesus made his way into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday there were similar scenes of joy and excitement.
Read 2 Samuel 6:1-23
1 David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. 2 He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.
6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The LORD's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.
8 Then David was angry because the LORD's wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
9 David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, "How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?" 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.
12 Now King David was told, "The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God." So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, 15 while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16 As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.
17 They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!"
21 David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel - I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour."
23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
- When Uzzah touched the ark of the Lord he immediately died (verses 6 and 7). What does this strange story tell us about the character of God? What questions does it raise?
- King David doesn't seem to have cared what people thought of him - he danced before the ark wearing nothing but his vest! How did he explain this to his embarrassed wife (verse 21)?
- David offered sacrifices to God and also gave gifts to the people who had travelled with him (verses 18 and 19). Why do you think he did that? What's the connection between worship and giving? Is there a connection between worshipping God and giving gifts in your own spiritual life?
- Michal accused David of being undignified in his worship (v20). But David didn't seem to mind a bit (v22)! Do you think our worship should always be dignified?
- What range of emotions did King David go through in the course of this story? What does his emotional journey tell us about David's experience of God's character?
As you journey through this Holy Week ask God to touch your heart directly - to help you experience the excitement of Palm Sunday, the horror of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Sunday. Why not watch the dramas on BBC1 each evening? Instead of simply watching the programmes as an observer, try to imagine yourself being there - a participant in the unfolding story of Holy Week.
Contact: BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship
This material has been provided by BBC Radio 4 in collaboration with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
Text © BBC 2007. Web site © CTBI 2007.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
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