Radical inclusivism and the Holy Spirit

Radical inclusivism and the Holy Spirit

Joel McKerrow continued his Bible Studies on day three of Synod with a look at Telling the Story of the Spirit through Acts 2:1-13. He dove deep into scripture to uncover the ‘radical inclusivism’ of the Holy Spirit as it descended on the first church and honoured the differences in all of us.

“Pentecost is about taking down the barriers, not of understanding, but of human connection,” said Joel during the Bible Study. “Barriers of communication are broken down, barriers to relationship can be broken down. At the heart of the Pentecost story we have this honouring of people. The Spirit, the counsellor comes to come alongside and break down the walls and barriers of division.”

“The spirit of prophesy comes to all people, it is ethnically inclusive. And according the disciple Peter it comes to both sons and daughters, it is gender inclusive. And it comes to young men and old men, it is age inclusive. And it even comes on servants, making it economically inclusive. You see the birth of the Spirit within our world bought about this radical inclusivism, this radical equality. Part of the Spirit’s ministry within our world is to bring this inclusivism out.

Joel spoke passionately about the Pentecost for the Uniting Church as being a tangible and visible expression of being honoured regardless of our differences. It is available for everyone. Often we can be afraid of the prophetic tradition.

“We often see it through the individual voice, which has become about speaking truth to people,” said Joel.  “We also have the social voice which is encapsulated by the justice movement, which is very much part of the tradition of the Uniting Church. This is about speaking truth to power.

“I wonder if part of our movement forward as the Church is to radically hold both the individual and social voice together. The movement of God to bring heaven to earth.”

Joel then encouraged members to write a poem to someone they knew and prophetically to speak into the life of someone else. The Holy Spirit or ‘paraclete’ from Greek walks alongside and counsels those in need.

He finished with a Jewish fable about truth, parable and story which is a Jewish teaching story about the how truth and parable must fundamentally be about story.

Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the doors and was readily welcomed into the villagers’ houses. They invited her to eat at their tables and warm herself by their fires.

Joel closed the session in prayer as asked that God would use our tongues to tell the story of God, that the world would be changed by a spirit-filled Uniting Church that will speak truth to people and the powers that be.

Adrian Drayton


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