"Add a Sorting Hat and you have the makings of an 8th Harry Potter."
Then there were many comments about the smoke and how that would communicate the decision. Of course after the selection of Pope Francis, there was much good said about him and now the critics are having their voice. But what I really want to share on my blog is about this idea of closing yourself off to the public and being vulnerable before God about your decisions. I love humor, so I get this comment and others and have laughed in jest with the different quips and ideas. This is flattery and all of these kinds of comments must be kept in perspective that humor is okay. It is fun and does not take away from seriousness of the event. But there is truth in every joke and the amount of comments, mostly from protestants, shows that we have our suspicions about the idea of this secret meeting and its reliance upon the Spirit.
Say what you want about Catholicism, Pro or con, I love this move they make to consort with God, the Holy Spirit. All Christians should be this bold with the decisions we make regarding our spiritual direction. I have long been a critic of considering God and praying for us to have a good parking spot or something of this insignificant nature. It's not that I don't appreciate a good parking spot or a nice house, or don't want to win American Idol or the lottery, but it's that there are some things that either happen or don't happen, not necessarily due to God's providence, but just due to how things fall. I want all Christians to put their hope in things above and count on the moving the Holy Spirit, but the promises of God aren't for us to have comfortable, easy lives. The promise of God is that His son will return and that he has prepared a new Promised Land that will last for eternity and we are invited. So while I accept the leading of the Holy Spirit, I reject that God intended for us to have a parking spot closest to the mall in mind as he commanded us to follow his crucified, resurrected son and to pray in his name. There is more at stake than that in the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is at work and we need to open ourselves to His leading. I think that's exactly what the Cardinals were doing during the conclave.
This opens a huge can of worms and room for great pondering. What does God genuinely care about? Well, he cares about his creation. He cares about His kingdom. He cares about His people (please read all people). I hope this isn't over simplified. Within each of these there are other ideas to explore. Kingdom has so much wrapped up in it, just like creation, and just like people. In biblical times you wouldn't find an Israelite or a follower of Christ who separated out their religious world, their social world, their work world, and their private/family world. These were all combined in how they lived and what they did. So when they were sick, they had sinned against God. When they were rich, wealthy, and healthy, they were following close to God and listening to His ways. Nowadays we take these worlds and we separate them. God is at church or when we say, "Bless You." We make our money at work and it is through our determination to the job, the hours we put in, and the way we lead that gives us our paycheck (as opposed to our following of God). Friends are in our social planes (virtual or real) and we have success in relationships based on our own feelings, happenings, or support given. And our family is found in our home behind our front door, within our fenced-in yard, and plastered on our Christmas card. When we get sick its a virus or an infection. When we get a raise it's because we have done good work. When we fail, it is because we made poor choices, or someone else did, or because it wasn't the right time or opportunity. Okay, I've stepped on some toes here and I have made some grand generalizations and to the negative side of humanity. I get that and its all for this point. We need to bring all of those worlds together under God. We need to explore what God wants for not just us individually, but for us as a people (do I dare use the term church here). We need to barricade ourselves off from the world sometimes to call on God and to seek His will and His direction.
When we hire ministers, select deacons, call elders, place membership, promote discipleship, serve those in need, send missionaries, collect an offering, or chart a vision we need to remove distractions and call on the Holy Spirit. So many times we make decisions in churches based on how it will impact attendance, finances, moods, or outside appearances. That's why we need to be called to a private, holy, space and allow for our focus and question to be what is best for the Kingdom and what does God want for us. Then when the decision has been made we can send the smoke into the sky knowing we have given it over to God and his leading and we follow his plan. Maybe then our different worlds will collide and what we see done in our churches, even when done in private, we can take home with us and allow for God to lead us there too and all over the world. Where there is Spirit, there is God.