Democratic Holy Spirit

So I’m at my polity’s regional convention,  an event that happens ever three years in our parts.  I’ve been to four of these now since I began the ministry.  Over the last dozen years I’ve progressed some in recognizing the value of what happens here.  While I still try to maintain a perspective on all of these things against the backdrop of 2000 years of Christian history, it’s how we get things done.  Some things, at least.

Some of the time.

The outgoing District President in his final District report of his 18-year tenure talked about how our denomination has changed over time.  An immigrant church that began as quite focused on German immigrants.   A denomination that evolved into an English-language church.  A denomination that gradually adapted more democratic procedures, in keeping with American ideas.

That observation stuck with me as we moved into elections of various District officers who will serve for the next three years.  The biggest of which is the election of a the first new President of our District in almost 20 years.  There were three fine men willing to stand for that position.  Any and all of them would serve admirably.  Each have served in pastoral capacities in the District for over 20 years.  Each have various circles of people they have interacted with over time and each has a unique personality that appeals to some and not to others.

We prayed before the election.  We prayed for the Holy Spirit to lead our decision.  I do trust that the Holy Spirit did that.  But it also struck me as kind of interesting that, if we want to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we then still turn it over to a popular vote that can be influenced by so many other factors beyond the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles determined a replacement for Judas by casting lots (Acts 1:12-26).  Replacing one of the only 12 Apostles in all of human history, they cast lots.  Yet here we are, casting 200-300 individual votes  for who will lead this little corner of  our polity for the next three years.  Why is that?  Why do we find the Biblical model so distasteful?  Why is it necessary for us all to have our say?

I asked the outgoing District President why we didn’t cast lots.  He didn’t have an answer.  He did say that he mentions to congregations in the Call process for a new pastor that they are free to cast lots to make their choice, but he isn’t aware of any of them that have taken him up on the idea.  Why not?

I presume at one level we don’t really trust the Holy Spirit.  I mean, sure He could apparently replace Judas.  But to select a new pastor?  Or a new District President?  C’mon, right?

Still, it makes sense to me.  It isn’t entirely comfortable, but then again I’m not  sure my comfort is the most important issue in all of this.

Is yours?




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