Tuesday, 6 July 2010

On Being Charismatic, Still: my Medicine Hat News "By the Way" Column for Saturday July 3rd, 2010

Some time ago in this column I began by writing, “Hi, I’m Gene and I’m a charismatic.” I still am. That is due in no small part to an Episcopal (Anglican) priest by the name of Dennis Bennett. Recently, I discovered that it is now fifty years since Bennett resigned from his thriving parish in California because his talk about his experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit had upset some of his people. Bennett wrote about his experience in a charismatic classic: Nine O’Clock in the Morning, and was instrumental in starting a wave of charismatic renewal which swept through mainline denominations in North America and eventually caught me up twenty-five years ago.

It was reading Nine O’clock in the Morning which made me want to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit myself. I finished it in the mid eighties in the back seat of a rental car on my way to Edmonton to direct a television program for Access TV. The Technical Producer was driving and the Production Assistant was sitting beside him up front. They were unaware of the spiritual event taking place just behind them. I decided I wanted what Bennett described. I wanted to see people healed and to hear words of prophecy. I wanted to pray in tongues. I wanted it all.

As soon as I was alone in my hotel room, I was on my knees beside my bed praying to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I prayed for the gift of tongues. I moved my lips and flapped my tongue. I made noises, but there was no flow to them. Nothing.

It would be two years of praying with varying levels of wanting and intensity before the Lord graciously and gently freed my tongue to speak in a prayer language. No lights flashed. There was no thunder. I wasn’t knocked to the ground. It just began and it was fluent. It flowed. I was, and continue to be, blessed by that gentle touch.

Since that time, I’ve experienced and seen the Holy Spirit work in many quiet and gentle ways. I continue to pray for more, especially to be more available for the prophetic (as St Paul suggests) and for healing. One day I hope to experience something more spectacular, but that’s up to the Lord.

Hi, my name is Gene, and I’m still a charismatic.