When my youngest son “graduated” from Grade 5 in June 2000, his class took a special year-end trip to Toronto. I was working as a school bus driver at the time—we lived in Ontario then—and I drove the bus. The highlight of the trip was attending The Lion King live at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The show was the most amazing performance I have ever experienced; it was an incredible experience, one I have never forgotten.
During 2018, Mennonite Church Saskatchewan churches are focussing on deepening our walk with God by increasing our awareness of God’s presence in our lives: experiencing God. In his book Experiencing the Presence of God, A.W. Tozer writes that deep in the soul of every person is a longing for the presence of God. We not only want to know about God, but we desire to feel his presence with us, to experience him. Think of how I experienced The Lion King; I didn’t just read a review! So how can we experience God? Here are a few practices I’ve found helpful:
- In January, I invited our congregation at Eyebrow Mennonite Church to join me in praying Psalm 63:1-8 every morning: “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my body longs for you . . . .” These words express our deepest longing and desire to experience God. As we pray them, over and over, day by day, we open ourselves to be changed; to become more aware of God’s presence, more open to see the activity of the Holy Spirit around us; to encounter the living Jesus with us and hear the Holy Spirit speak to us.
- Before Jesus ascended to his Father, he promised he would never leave us. Then on Pentecost, the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit blew into the room where Jesus’ followers were meeting. I’ve encouraged our congregation to let the wind remind us of the presence of the Holy Spirit with us. And here in Saskatchewan the wind blows a lot! Open your senses and arms to feel and welcome the wind of the Holy Spirit, and delight in God’s presence with us and around us.
- I love to play the piano and sing. One thing I’ve been doing in 2018 is spending at least a few hours every week singing and worshipping God in song. And I experience God’s presence in a powerful way.
- About a year ago, Ryan Siemens, MC Saskatchewan’s executive minister, and Josh Wallace, pastor of Warman Mennonite Church, taught us a new song with the words, “Holy Spirit, breathe o’er us your warm breath of life; remind us who we are again.” We’ve been singing this song at most MC Saskatchewan gatherings. And I’ve sensed a fresh wind of the Spirit blowing among us: in my congregation, at MC Saskatchewan council meetings and at other gatherings.
Jesus has not left us alone! The Spirit of God is present with us. May we continue to open our hearts to experience and encounter God’s presence with us.
Sharon Schultz is deputy moderator of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan and pastor of Eyebrow Mennonite Church.