Although from ‘classic pentecostal’ stock, I’ve connected with ‘new church’ streams now for many years –  there I feel at home, in terms of churchman-ship. After being in such company for so long, however, I must admit to developing an unhealthy attitude towards folk in ‘non-pentecostal’ or ‘non-charismatic’ traditions, from time to time. The reason being: I’ve found it not uncommon in my ‘cherished’ circles to encounter a sense of superiority over those in traditional churches – even questioning the ‘validity’ of their Christianity. Yes, I’ve met those within ‘classic pentecostalism’ who actually believe they are the only ‘saved ones’ – which smacks of horrible spiritual pride, and even has a cult-like ring to it.

I suppose it’s impossible not to be affected by such a culture. Strange, perhaps – as I’ve admired people like John Wesley and his early Methodists, because they were the ‘radicals’ of their day. Although I confess, again, that I only saw them as ‘confirming’ my own ideas, rather than embracing their rigid and formal structures of church life.

BUT my journey over the last 18 months has been enriched through tapping into some of the writings of the Early Church Fathers, some of which I come across in the Divine Office – a Catholic prayer book.  I borrowed a copy from our local RC priest 8 years ago, and found it very refreshing then.  Now, accessing it ‘online’ regularly adds something very special to my life.

When I mentioned this to my Anglican spiritual director, he gave me a ‘knowing’ grin, as if to say: “You were in ministry for umpteen years, and never discovered the richness of communal prayer through using a Prayer Book – where have you been all this time”. It made me wonder what other treasures I have missed in our rich Christian heritage, resulting from a posture which polarizes the activity of the Spirit.  (For example: using ‘set prayers’ equals formal and un-spiritual, while ‘spontaneous’ prayer equals ‘spirit-led’).

Well, I’m pleased to have made another valuable ‘discovery’ – the different schools of prayer, established by godly men centuries ago, in the pursuit of God and deeper spirituality. Benedictine, Franciscan, Ignatian ‘spirituality’ –  to name a few – all offer something quite unique, and are full of insight and wisdom when it comes to pressing into God –  tap-roots of His grace.

Consequent on these ‘finds’ I can no longer think of ‘pentecostals’ and ‘charismatics’ as having a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. No, there are some wonderful people in ‘traditional’ streams, whose lives are laden with spiritual fruit, and who are great to be around. They don’t make a song and dance about their ‘spiritual’ walk, they don’t flaunt or parade it, but quietly and effectively get on with witnessing to Christ in their tradition.

That makes them very special indeed – and I’m so privileged to share their goodly heritage.

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