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 Mysticism is unusually a term used to describe saints that had or has very close encounters with God.  We tend to think that only a few very gifted people have mystical experiences and get really close to God.  There is an unspoken idea that the ordinary Christian certainly could not have the kinds of encounters that the Saints have written about.  (That is what I used to think).  However we do read in the Book of Acts, and in some of the letters of Paul that close encounters with God were actually fairly common in the early days in the church.  A number of people experience healings and deliverances for example.  Saint Paul prays over pieces of cloth which are later laid upon sick people and they recover.  Saint Peter’s shadow is said to have healed others.  Paul said he was caught up to the 3rd heaven (the very home of God) and saw things that he was not allowed to talk about.  Peter is rescued by angels, Philip is moved instantly from one place to another by the Spirit, and many see the risen Jesus.  Not to mention the few times that the Spirit came and shook the very building they were in.

Several times in the book of Acts decision were made after the disciples heard the Holy Spirit speak to them.  We don’t know how this happened … just that it did happen.  Also prophets did advise Paul what was going to happen if he continued to Jerusalem.  They did hear from God.  Encounters were so common that Peter, encountering a group of new Christians, sensing something was wrong, asks did you receive (encounter) the Holy Spirit yet.  To which they respond that they did not know there was a Holy Spirit.  Paul immediately laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them in a way that was discernible to all present.

In a sermon several years ago I heard a bishop shared that many people had told him experiences they had that were outside of their paradigms.  These experiences were often hard for them to understand or make sense of.  This happened to me twice, once when I was 10 and again at 15.  I had no idea that God might want to talk to anybody let alone me and so I quickly ignored the experience, thinking that people would think there was something wrong with me if I told anyone.

These experiences, and some subsequent encounters, have led me to believe that, to some degree, we are all called to experience God in our lives occasionally.   For much of my life I was not open to this because … well … I did not believe it to be possible.  The spirit of this age has done a good job getting people to believe that the spiritual realm does not exist.  If he cannot get us to believe that, his next lie is that we can never experience anything of heaven, or angels, or the Spirit.  He knows that if we do he has lost us forever.  As the scripture says come and see that the Lord is good.

The disciples were forever changed when the Holy Spirit encountered them at Pentecost.  They knew for sure that God was real, Jesus was God, and that they were loved beyond human understanding.  They then went about changing the world forever.  This I believe is the inheritance of every Christian.  To encounter God the Holy Spirit in a personal way that sets our course towards heaven in an undeniable way.  The only one that can stand in the way of our personal encounters with God is ourselves.  We can be closed to such encounters by fear, wrong understandings, bad teachings, and sins we hang on to.

Come Holy Spirit come, enkindle the fires of love in our hearts and you will renew the face of the earth.  Give us experiential knowledge of your presence in us and help us come to know you personally, and please, lead us always in the way of Love.

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