The Word in the Wings
The Word in the Wings > From the studio: part of the story
From the studio: part of the story
By: Julia Dutill
Editor’s note: Following the company’s inductive study of Acts 2:1-9, apprentice Julia Dutill led everyone in contemplative prayer, inviting us to vividly imagine the scene as she read and to pray in response to our experience of the passage. Here, she shares about how God spoke to and moved her through this passage and what she hoped to illuminate for others by guiding our contemplation on this Scripture.
THE POWER OF A STORY
I’m a big believer in using the power of story to touch the heart and the mind. An aspect of contemplative prayer that I chose to use was using imagination to experience the passage. By imagining yourself as a character in the story, or focusing on the detailed surroundings of the passage, I liked that I felt as if I was part of the story. Stories use our mind and our emotions to touch our hearts, and by putting ourselves in the story by using our imaginations, we are able to experience the passage in a whole new way.
PREPARING & PRAYING
I read several chapters on contemplative prayer from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster, and I did a bit of a deep dive into the passage itself where I used inductive Bible study techniques to make sure I really understood the passage so I could better create the prompts. I also had many conversations with Kaya to help prepare for leading contemplative prayer.
One theme that stood out to me was how God used language to create unity among His people and to further spread the gospel. Obviously, back then, news did not travel anywhere as fast as it does today, so I found it fascinating how God did a miracle to begin a sort of ripple effect to spread the gospel around the world. And then a very minute detail that I noticed and appreciated was how the Holy Spirit let His presence be known through elements of nature. In verse 2, it says that “Suddenly the sound of a violent wind came from heaven …” and in verse 3 it says that “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” There are different times in the Bible where God also appears in those elements; for example, God appeared to Moses through fire in the burning bush, and some translations say that He spoke to Job out of a whirlwind. I just like how He uses creation to announce His presence, and it makes me think of ways He does that daily (but far more subtly), such as through sunsets and rainbows. It makes me want to notice His creation more.
One of the details I imagined most vividly as I prayed through the passage is the emotions and the thought processes of the disciples. Were they surprised? Were they afraid? Were they incredibly excited? It must have been so amazing to experience the presence of God like that, especially after watching Jesus ascend into Heaven and knowing they would never see Him again as man on this earth. I liked to imagine the disciples as joyful yet calm as they received this gift from the Holy Spirit, and then excited to get to go share the gospel with everybody.
One of the prompts I used was for everyone to listen to the passage and focus on the sensory details. That could be hearing the violent wind or seeing the fire. It could also be experiencing the sensation of being part of a large crowd or community. I wanted them to take time to focus on the surroundings so the stage for the story would be set.
WHEN GOD IS PRESENT
Acts 2 is an example of what can happen when believers come together to worship the Lord. The disciples were all together when the Holy Spirit descended, and then they went out and started praising the Lord and telling of all His wondrous deeds, catching the attention of believers and non-believers who had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. The end result was a massive crowd, many of whom came to believe in Christ, and then likely went back to their hometown and told their friends and family. This idea is flipped in the story of the Tower of Babel, where people come together not to worship the Lord but for their own good, and with the design to become equal with God, and the result is confusion and frustration. This contrast will help me create my own character in the performance of Babel. As for my personal life, it will help me remember that anything done for my own sake and not for the Lord’s equates to nothing, but when God is present among a group of people longing to worship and follow Him, anything is possible.
Are you joining us to celebrate GPA’s 5th birthday on May 20, 2023? RSVP here to see GPA’s new ballet Babel and do your own contemplation on God’s power and presence.
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