Saturday, 16 May 2015


There was a point when I acknowledged a need to worship God within a Christian context. It was the ‘how’ that challenged me.

Somewhere along the line I attended a ‘non-denominational’ service conducted by a dynamic pastor in a school hall.  I was used to the traditional Catholic and Anglican Churches of my youth so that hall just didn’t do it for me. (I later learned how traditional architecture, candles, vestments and icons are triggers for worship.) It also didn’t help that the sermon was on the need for women to obey their husbands.

The Anglican parish I was attending seemed to suit my basic needs. Designed by Sir Hebert Baker, the stone church had beautiful stain-glass windows. The services just bordered on the high and hazy. It felt like church.  

Importantly, the sermons were exceptional. (My rector became a bishop.)  And I’m still in awe of the God-incidence that took me past several other Anglican parishes between that one and my home.

Frankly the main reason I kept returning was the new social circle I was slipping into. I enjoyed the great conversations and the good red wine. My rector and his wife (my Spiritual Director) subscribed to the Benedictine principles of hospitality. They were generous hosts.  I, who’d become a real pleb as a single mother building up a major business, was drawn into company that enjoyed the arts and were creative. Most importantly, several of them understood the politics of our imminent democracy.

Never underestimate the power of planned fellowship!

I was also increasingly impressed by Jesus’ joie de vivre – the quality of wine he produced at the wedding, the dinner parties he attended, the friends he visited. His maverick approach to social taboos.

The Alpha Course wasn’t doing it for me.  Not enough reasoning for my personality type.  But I came from an era in which you finished your food (for the starving kids in Ethiopia) and anything else you started.

I did, however, draw the line at the residential week-end that most Alpha courses focus on. Over two days participants are encouraged to experience the Holy Spirit. For some this involves speaking in tongues. Others are zapped by the Holy Spirit and keel over.

No way Jose! When I was about 11 years old I’d fainted during Mass in Grahamstown’s Catholic Cathedral and wet my pants. There’d be no encore.  I bunked.

Nor did I have any desire to speak in tongues. Most of you will know that the gift of tongues is authenticated when, after a person has gabbled away, others are able to interpret. Invariably there’s a long and sometimes embarrassing pause before this follows. I often wonder if the interpreter isn’t just being kind.

Okay I accept it’s a special gift and that it can be a great way to lose oneself in God.  However, I’ve never seen it used publicly to really good effect. What’s your opinion or experience


sunflowers and khakibush said...

I can understand your fear of being "slain in the Spirit" given your embarrassing mishap at the Catholic Cathedral in Grahamstown. Slain in the Spirit is not a phrase I like to use, but I can't deny that I wasn't touched by the Holy Spirit in a powerful way in 1989. One of our Rectors organized for a group of us to go to the John Wimber conference held in Joburg. It was a real eye opener for all of us. At the end of the conference, we were all on a real high, which does happen at conferences, and I asked the Holy Spirit what She would like me to do. The answer came back loud and clear Dial a Prayer, including every aspect on how it should be run. This was not something I had ever thought about or even heard about, so I accepted that my question had been answered and I had better get on with it and do it.

At the same time that I started a telephonic Dial-a-prayer service, a blind retired Baptist minister as well as a large Charismatic church started a similar service, I ran the service for 13 years and had thousands of requests for prayers. I used to record scripture onto an answering machine whereby people could dial in and listen to it, before deciding to leave their names and prayer requests. I would listen to the tape every morning and pray for those people for seven days. In this way I could cope with all the requests for prayer, and not get too frayed around the edges.

There are horses for courses and that is the course I felt I had been placed on for that particular time in my life. What it did for me, was to give me a pretty good idea of the scriptures. Once you have read scriptures onto a tape for thirteen years, you can't help but know a lot more than you did in the beginning.

Loraine Tulleken said...

Thank you for a wonderful response