It is difficult to speak of something we are aiming at and we have not achieved. This is one of the great problems, I think, when we speak of the problem of community and reality of community both in Christendom and in any society. What we aim at, what we grope towards, is always more than we have achieved, and it is not from within a complete knowledge of what it is, but from our striving towards what it should be and is not yet that we move. This I think applies to any community which we envisage and I think we must take that into account, because otherwise one gives images. One can idealize community which one imagines to be one’s own, or on the contrary, one becomes quite despondent about the kind of community to which one belongs and which falls very short of any of our strivings or ideals. Speaking of the Christian community, may I say just as a passing remark for a moment that the pattern of it is God Himself, One in the Holy Trinity. There is no other pattern for a Christian community whatever. And this a clear enough indication that however close a group of people who are bound together for a certain time, or the total Christendom in its entirety, however close such a group comes to achieving something, we always fall short and we always stand condemned. Yet unless we keep in mind what the community think of is like in its ideal pattern, in its ultimate achievement, we have no basis and no precise goal to move, and also we have no definite pattern which we can strive to achieve.
I am not going to speak now of this ideal pattern, but I would like to introduce this, which I would like to take up next time, by a certain number of remarks about the concrete situation. And the concrete situation is not simply the parish to which I belong or the small groups around us, but a wider field of thought and observation.
A few years ago at a conference held in Bossey under the auspices of the WCC someone gave a paper entitled “The Church, a saving and morbid community”, and I think we can start at that point, because 1 believe there is a great deal of truth in defining the Church in that way. The comparison that immediately comes to my mind was, is Alcoholics Anonymous, and at this point I think it is worth noting: that we fall short of AA in more than one way, because we are certainly as morbid as those who are members of the association, but I do not believe that speaking on the human level – I am not speaking of sacramental action or the Divine action as such, – but in terms of the human contribution we are up to AA. And this I believe for 2 reasons. The first one is that every member of AA knows that he is alcoholic, hopes that he will remain anonymous, but also knows quite certainly that he needs healing. The trouble with us Christians is that we very seldom think that we need healing. Alcoholic we are, intoxicated with a variety of things, which we can call the world on the one hand and false churchmanship on the other. Intoxicated we are, drag addicts we are, but unaware of it we also are. And this makes it extremely difficult for us to reach any kind of real healing. There are groups in Christendom, however, who are closer perhaps than others to this awareness. For instance, in the Catholic world, and I use the Catholic in the general sense – something has dropped out completely: it is the ability and the custom to recognize publicly what is wrong in one’s present life and what was wrong in one’s past life. When someone has become a ‘worthy member’ of his, parish or his Christian group, he usually tries to conceal as effectively as possible the fact that he may have had a rather unattractive or distasteful past. There are a few groups which have still kept the idea that someone can make a statement about his past, however shameful, and say, “This is to the glory of God. That is what I was, and God has helped me out, got me out of the rut”. I do not mean to say that there are no morbid exaggerations in that direction. We manage somehow to be morbid in whatever way we act and to go wrong in whatever way we try to act. Very often public confession of one’s past sins becomes exhibitionism, but it still remains that there is a basic truth in the fact that unless we are prepared to own the fact that our past is shameful and that a moment has come when this past has become a situation outgrown, that now it is no longer that, we don’t stand much chance to be treated by our community and to treat our community as a healing community, what happens if we all concentrate on never appearing to have had anything wrong in our past is that we club together with our hidden sickness and morbidity and that we spend an enormous amount of our time trying to appear sane or whole when we are both insane and lacking in wholeness.
And the second thing which makes us different from AA is that not only don’t we recognize the fact that we are sick and need healing. The community as such is not primarily concerned in making its members whole. I am not speaking of principles, I am not saying that of the church as such, but I am speaking of concrete groups of people whether parishes or other smaller groups of bigger entities. It may be the business of the Church, it may also be the business of the ministers. It may be the business of a small group within the bigger group which will make its concern of healing the black sheep. Referring first of all, there is this distinction between the white and the black sheep. And secondly, it should not be a problem for a small group specializing on black sheep, to make them into something else, but it should be the very life and activity of the whole group. And when I say that, I mean life more than activity an the sense that it isn’t something which the group must undertake, you know, the one brushing the other, as one sees in children’s books – one sees the one behind the other and trying to find fleas in one another’s back, so that it goes are and everyone of the monkeys helps the monkey ahead of him and is helped by the monkey behind him. It’s not a question of ‘engaging’ in that kind of activity for the good of the other. It’s a question of possessing together an intensity, a depth of life which will allow one to come to life, to acquire wholeness, to grow to his full, stature; who otherwise couldn’t do it. So that in that respect, however morbid we are individually, however morbid is the set-up because we do not recognize our individual sickness and the necessity, the possibility of this sharing, we don’t come near the effectiveness of something like AA.
And then there is a further thing which I think complicates the problem. It is the delusion that once we have got in, into the Church, we are safe within it, as though we thought of the Church in images which, indeed, were used by the fathers and are still quite legitimate, as the animals that got into Noah’s ark. Once you are in and the door is shut, you are safe from the outside. Well, it isn’t as passive and as simple as that. Indeed, Noah’s ark is an image of the Church in the sense that death is abroad, life is within, in the sense that it is centred on God’s will of salvation, etc… But it is not Noah’s ark in the sense that one can, once and for all be brought into it, looked into a corresponding cage, and I say cage because obviously they are animals who would readily eat their neighbour for food or for entertainment in the course of these long months of flood and of rain. It is not as sample as this. The Church is a curious body in that you are not born into it. You may be born in a Christian family, but you are not automatically a member of the Church; you become a member of the Church by an event and a decision. The event is that in one way or another in the course of your life you discover God, you give Him his legitimate place and significance, you attribute to Him ultimate value, and you order your life with this knowledge in view or this knowledge at the centre. Also another event, which is that God receives us and does something about us. This is the initiative of God in meeting us, on the one hand, but also this complex event which one calls the sacraments of initiation, that is those acts of God which start in us a new life. The early Church spoke of these sacraments of initiation grouping under this title baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the first Communion one received. It was the beginning of a new life in a new relatedness both to God and to anyone else who had also undergone this experience and to the outer world that had not undergone this experience but was related to the Church as its centre, we imagine very often – I think it is unfortunately very commonly felt – that it is enough for the outer events to have taken place for the whole thing to have-happened. If you look at the Scriptures, you’ll see that baptism means to die with Christ and to rise with Him. Indeed it was and is still expressed in the merging of the catechumen into the waters of baptism and his coming out. But if this is all that happens, if this is not integrated in the consciousness, in the awareness of the baptized person on all levels as an experience of real dying and real rising, of dying in such a way that things become alien and certain other things become real, then it is only a seed sown that has not given any plant. This formulation belongs to Father Florovsky and has got more authority than I can put into it.
This is why one could speak in the early Church of baptism of desire, i.e. of those people who were not in a position to be baptized de facto but longed for it and went through all the inner experience that corresponded to this longing, loving, believing, hoping, dying, being taken up by God, coming back to a new life. It is not simply a vague desire; it is a whole process within a person. So that we must realize that the old sayings of Augustine and others that it is not all those who seemingly are members of the Church that belong to it; it is not all those who seemingly are outsiders of the Church that do not belong to it is true. One does not become a member of the Church by simply a ritual action if nothing is happening within ourselves. I use the word ritual action purposefully because if there is nothing happening within us, we treat it as a ritual magic action and not as something which is a divine act within the relationship of freedom and of cooperation between God and man. And then one cannot remain a member of the Church simply because one has entered into it. One remains obviously a member of a visible community. But as far as being the Church, belonging to it, there is a great deal more to be said. You probably remember that the early Church that had an intense sense, both of human community and of oneness with God considered that certain sins cut a man off the Church and God, and that it was only by an act of as it were double reintegration to the community and to God that this re integration took place, not simply by a one-sided act directed either to the community or else to God. So that the Church appears as a strange body in that respect, as a community into which you must enter, but on conditions that are really measured, ascertained, really only by God, and also out of which you can fall, become alien to it, under certain conditions.
And then the Church has got another side, again in this context of healing and morbid community. It is simultaneously an empirical body, something which we can observe on earth, in history, at large or in small groups, which therefore is an object of historical psychological, sociological and other study, but it is also a body which transcends history in the same way in which Christ transcends history. By this I want to convey the fact that when God became man at the moment and in the days of the Incarnation, the days of the flesh of Christ, God was entirely within human history in the person of the Son of God become the Son of Man. One may say that in becoming man, in taking flesh, the word of God integrated Himself to the total reality of time, of space and of becoming. But at the same time the same Son of Man transcended time, space and becoming, not only because he also was God, but because in his humanity he was already united to the Godhead, and the humanity of Christ on earth already belongs to the days of his flesh and to the age of eschatology, that is the age when all things already are fulfilled. The humanity of Christ belongs to a given moment of history and simultaneously to the fulfillment of all things. And in another way one may say that the humanity of Christ also is contemporary with all epochs of history, because the risen Christ is still Jesus, risen from the dead and alive in the flesh, transfigured and resurrected day after day until the final fulfillment comes. And we cannot dissociate Christ from the Church. And in that sense the Church is simultaneously a body which belongs to history with all its empirical implications and also belongs to the age to come, also is an eschatological presence. And this not only in the person of Christ, although this also should be understood, Christ is the first-born of the dead. He is the first Member of the Church, He is the first man truly fulfilled, the only true and full revelation of what man is called to be and potentially is. In Christ he is that actually and really. And so when we speak of the Church, we have within the Church already one man who is the Man of the age to come. And we can never speak of the Church ignoring this dimension which transcends time, history and becoming in already fulfilled and achieved fulness. But also in us who are the material of the Kingdom of God in progress, who are in becoming, there is also an aspect which transcends already the becoming and the finiteness of time and space. If it is true that we are really grafted on Christ, that we are really united to Him not only by emotion, by a faith that does not unite, by a hope that is pie in the sky, by a love which we know to be so weak anyhow, but in a much more real way by an openness to God, to which God responds by a concrete action that makes us different in ourselves with regard to Him and with-regard to the whole world. We are very often unaware of the depth and extension of the event, but it is still there and one can see it, perceive it is other people and at times even in oneself.
So that again when we speak of the Church as a society both morbid and healing, we can see it in a wider context. It is morbid because we are sick – and we all are sick with one sickness which is mortality. And mortality means godlessness, severance from God, uprootedness. On the other hand, within the Church, within our experience, there is a rootedness in God, there is a presence of God, and our presence to Him, there is life which is not simply a very perfect form of human life – human being understood as biological, psychological etc., but as a presence of the life-giving Spirit of God meeting the spirit of man capable of this meeting and of this life. I think it is important for us to realize these two poles in our existence. On the one hand, death at work in us – because we are still alien to the Kingdom through sin, which means separation, separation from God and separation from man – and on the other hand, that we are rooted in eternal life. And this eternal life is not something, it is not elemental life, it is Someone. If you look up the Book of Revelation (this was pointed out to me by someone else, it is certainly not a-discovery of mine) you will see that The End – the Greek word for it is eschaton – is not used as it is normally used, as a neuter, but in the masculine gender. It is not to eschaton, it is no eschatos, which means that the end is not something, it is someone, it is God Himself. And that makes a great deal of difference to our situation because it is only within a personal relationship and a personal relatedness to God that we can begin to think in terns of any kind of relatedness to man, in terms of group and society.
As far as we are morbid, that is, mortal, fragmented between ourselves, schizophrenic within ourselves with a variety of conflicting wills, desires, tendencies, and so forth, as far as we are broken up, there is within the experience of the Church one form of community longing which we have in common with – everything which is fragmented, broken up and incomplete. It is the desire to come close to one another, to complement and supplement one another in our poverty and misery. One can gather together for fear, or loneliness, for hatred of what is outside, for anguish of the inner brokenness, for greed for what common effort can give. These are only examples. That creates a community of people who club together, if I may put it this way, to alleviate and share their loneliness. It is broken pieces that try to support one another, and indeed that is legitimate, and more than legitimate, as long as the broken pieces realize that they are broken, that they are fragments, pieces, that they are together because they look for a completeness which they do not find themselves, that they need healing because of all these things, and that in that respect they belong to the universal social situation in which people are fragmented, inwardly, outwardly, between themselves, and in that respect they belong to the type, Alcoholic Anonymous, if they only realize what that means. But this leads to a vision of community that consists of people who cannot survive alone, of people who are not sufficiently rooted in something which one can call God, life eternal, fulfillment, – who cannot part from one another because parting means a loneliness and the anguish of it, and who will try to club together according to affinities – it may be religious, theological, political, emotional, literary or other convictions and tendencies – and who will try, having formed a group of people who are akin to one another – in the case of the Church it will be a denomination, a parish, a house church, it may be a youth group, it may anything which is a group of people by affinity, on the one hand, and the community of something that holds them together. They will try to have a life as complete as possible between themselves, i.e., form a society within society, a society which will provide for everything, not only common worship of the common God, or the One God, but also for all the forms of human activity because there is safety in that: kind of association because it allows to experience what is thought to be all the richness of human relatedness without the dangers of the outer world and without the danger of creaking off from each other in order to face in aloneness (with or without God, according to what experience we have) something which is outside us.
If you look at the early Church, you discover that it is not alien to this desire, or rather, to this joy, of people who stay together, but it has one more characteristic which our churches have not got, at least not much, I believe, and certainly not to that extent, – it has got openness, not in the sense that it is open for as many people who are kindred to come in, but open for the members of the community to go out taking all the richness of this community, all the fulness of life that belongs to the community, to groups of people who have not got it, who are alien to it, who are at times antagonistic to it.
The first side, that of a community of people who rejoice being together. (I don’t want to use the word ’enjoy’ because ‘enjoyment’ I think is something lower than the rejoicing of the early Christians.) These early Christians rejoiced in being together. If you think of the situation, for instance, of the early community in Jerusalem, it was people who had a personal experience of God revealed in Christ, who had seen the implications of it, implications for Jesus of Nazareth, of his total commitment both to God and to man, of his total solidarity both with God and with man, who had accepted to follow the example which God had given them in Jesus, manifesting to them what man was, and what the situation was in a world that had become godless. They were scattered on a very small territory, Jerusalem, but they belonged to the families in which some members belonged to the Church and some did not, in which there was tension, in which there was antagonism, and a wider society in which there was hatred for them and physical danger. When they met as a group of people in which each knew that the other ones shared his faith, his hope, his dangers, his commitment, his love of God and the ensuing love of man, yes, they felt that there was no one closer, in the world :than they were, and that they had a great responsibility for each other in this community of people, because as far as the wider community was concerned, they were outcasts – to very different degrees; some were taken to the tribunals, some were simply beaten or stoned, and some had to endure all the tensions of a divided family or a divided tribal group, wider family. Yes, they came together and they felt responsible and solid. You can see that in the Book of Acts. The choice of the deacons in whom the concern, concrete, thoughtfully-creative, of the community for the weaker and the poorer and the most destitute members was vested, and in the fact that this community had all the material goods in common. But also there was another side. These people continued to live in their normal milieu and did not try to create an exclusive body. They continued to go and worship in the temple that was rejecting them in the person of the high priest. They continued to feel that they belonged to the wider society which was rejecting them. When the time of the persecutions came, the sense of the oneness of the small persecuted community grew even deeper and stronger, but also the sense of relatedness with the outer world was not destroyed. There was a concern for each other; there was also a concern for the outsider. At one moment, I think, did the early Church try to be a society which was self-sufficient and the very claim of the early Church was that they wanted to be part of the wider society, and this was probably the greatest problem, because at the same time as the early Christian community there were other organizations of religious type, mystery organizations, mystical sects, but they accepted to be self-contained, concentrating only on their own worship or initiatic life. What the Church did from the very beginning at the moment of the persecutions, in the form of the apologets was to claim a right to exist and to claim the fact that although it was alien in certain ways, it was at the very heart of the society. It was alien because the church from the very beginning declared that it knows only one Lord Jesus, one King, Jesus, one Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, and the tension arose from the fact that it was obvious disloyalty to the earthly kingdom, to the earthly king, to the earthly lords. And they could not explain – because this can be understood only from within this Church and not from without – they could not explain that to be loyal to the earth you must be totally committed to heaven, that it is only if you recognize no other lord than the God of history, the God of heaven and earth, the Saviour of the world, that you remain, or rather become, completely and truly loyal to the earthly organization to which you belong. And at that moment the Church claimed a right to belong, while the world said to the Church, “Go, busy yourself with your worship, make it secret, let it not appear on the surface, let it not overlap with your outer life. Worship our gods, adore our emperor, recognize that you owe him complete allegiance.” And the Church answered, “No, I don’t. My king is the lord of all. And yet I claim a right to be a loyal citizen. In that respect from the very beginning this small community refused to be self-secluded, refused to exist for itself and in itself, refused to become either a religious organization in the sense in which, say, some totalitarian governments would like the Church to be, or else refused to become a society within a society where everything could be organized so as to ignore the outside world.
On the other hand, from the very beginning the Church was not only centred on the exalting, deep, life-giving joy of the community of life of its members together with God but also was orientated on all the outer world, because on the evening of His Resurrection Christ breathed on his disciples, said to them “Receive the Holy Ghost’, and his next words were, “As My Father has sent me, even so do I send you,” He did not tell them, ” I now constitute you to a coherent body of people who have all the kingdom within yourself and within your circle.” He said, “Break the circle, open up, walk out, go, and bring the Kingdom everywhere and to everyone”.
I have mentioned – and this, I believe, is very important for our understanding of this other aspect of community – I have mentioned that Christ breathed upon his apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” When we speak of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we always think of Pentecost as related in the Book of Acts: the day when the Spirit of God came down in tongues of fire on-each one of the apostles, or of the disciples who were present there. But we find in the 20th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John this passage which I have mentioned, in which the Holy Spirit is given to them. But if you compare the two passages, you will see that the gift is different, and the one depends upon the other and could not exist outside the other.
In the story of St. John’s Gospel 10 disciples are gathered together. One of them, Judas, has fallen away from the apostolic circle and is now dead, and one of them is not there: Thomas. Christ appears and gives them the Holy Spirit. They receive the spirit. This gift of the Holy Spirit is not a personal gift. No one of them was possessed of it individually, but the whole apostolic circle received it in its togetherness and its oneness. You can see that from the fact that when, a week later, Thomas is together with the 10 and Christ appears to them again, he does not give him the spirit separately as though he had not received Him in the first place. None of them possesses the gift that is possessed by the Church. Yet all of them are possessed of this gift because they belong to the Church. Whoever entered into the Church, whoever became a member of the Body of Christ, was in possession, was possessed by the same Spirit Who lives in the Church. It is only because the Spirit lives in the Church, that each of its members can receive Him. There is no private relatedness to God that would unite each person to the Holy Spirit while each other person is related independently and without any relation. It is because the Spirit lives in the Church that its members can become singly but not in isolation or separation temples of this Spirit. And this, I think, is essential if we want to understand that the Church community, however dear to us may be the joy of togetherness, the community of worship, the sense that we are possessed of one thing which is God’s own truth, of one life which is the life of God within us singly and in our togetherness because of our togetherness that we are incipiently growing into a new depth of love which transcends human, love relationships, that although all that is there is still something, the love of God abroad in our Churches and in our hearts that commands us to go, to leave the Mount of Transfiguration in order to go down into the plain, to leave the joy of the divine and the human fellowship, presence, in order to go to those who are still outsiders to one extent or another. And the community is not broken by the fact that such and such of its members are away from it, because this oneness of life, it is God’s own life which fills those who are present and those who are absent. And I think we must give some thought to the difference there is between the gregarious feeling which makes people club together because of aloneness, anguish, fear, impoverishment etc. and the sense of a community which rejoices in its oneness even when it is scattered and sees a revelation of the Kingdom when it is joined together again in an act of worship, the high priest of which is the Lord Jesus Christ, the power of which is the Spirit, which is addressed to the Father in the mystery of the Church no longer seen simply as a historical community imprisoned in time and space but as a community which, engrained in history, transcends history as an event of the World to Come.
Well, this is a rather bitty introduction which I want to make to the half-hour discussion we can afford now and to what I would like to say next time concerning the community in relation to God One in the Holy Trinity, the true pattern of human society, and particularly of the Church.
I wonder whether I didn’t lead Irene into temptation, by using the word ‘catholic’ which I did not mean in terms of Roman Catholic or Anglo-Catholic, to pinpoint one particular thing, the kind of certainty in mechanical belonging, which is certainly not the picture I would give of any of the Catholic or non-Catholic groups. What I meant was that if you divide churches broadly into the churches of the catholic tradition with a small ‘c’ and of, say reformed of protestant traditions, if you take the extreme points, there will be at one end very often a sense that ‘I belong because I was, say, baptized, confirmed, that something was done to me and therefore I have security, certainty, etc. At the other end there will be the feeling that I commit myself, I have had a concrete experience, I have done certain things, nothing much has happened. I don’t believe that either of the two are true total sense. But I was pointing to one particular fact, that if we believe that it is enough to have been done one way or another, well, it isn’t enough.
When I use the phrase, I did not mean to say that we are not worldly enough, neither did I mean to say that we singly, individually or in groups are not ingrained in things of the world with an enormous influence of it. What I was thinking is that if you take the average Christian, he has a sense to belong to assort of selected few, who are God’s own little flock, that there is an outer world, and that the relation between the two should be either the conquest of the one by the other or the destruction of the other by the one. I think the relation between the two is much richer than this, not in terms of the church accepting worldly values or the world accepting forms that are dear to the Church, even in terms of law, but of the Church bringing into the world values, hope, faith, etc. which it should possess and does, in order to kindle in the world a new life, but not in terms of two enemy camps; in other terms. My impression from, say, the apostles’ mission is that they went out because their hearts were so full of God’s faith in roan, so full of God’s love for man, so full of hope and certainty that a message of that kind would give life and joy to people and would be received. They went out to share out something that filled them. Well, I don’t think this is the average sense of the Christian nowadays. On the one hand, I’m not sure that we have got this sense of being so fulfilled, so full of joy that so much is given, that we can share and share without ever losing, because, we are plugged on an unfathomable depth of life etc. On the other hand, we seem to be very suspicious as far as the world is concerned. We don’t seem to have the early Church’s faith in man and its joy in sharing. I may be wrong, but it doesn’t impress me that way. Very often when I read things written by missionaries, etc., it sounds as though ‘I have the truth and I will implant it’, but not ‘I am so happy, I want to contaminate you with my joy. I am so alive, I want to infect you with my life etc. It doesn’t strike me that way: I may be very insensitive to that.
…I think the apostles, as Jews, had in their tune at least one sense of separation, the chosen people and the heathen world. And this was transcended in an incredible way from the first… I think that if you take the tensions between pharisees, sadducees, etc. you can – perhaps not to the extent that we have achieved to be divided in Christ – but there was separatedness, but I think that the major thing is that they transcended that great divide and recognized that all the people were of one blood and God’s own people, and they went out into the world to all people because all were God’s own, which I think was a remarkable thing then, if you remember the disagreements between Peter and Paul over the Gentiles, and the fear one had of going into the world of the Gentiles: was it right? not to make them proselytes, Jews and then Christians, as it were.
…(I agree with you that the priests are more cut off than lay people from the non-Christians in their daily activities) and this is why I am very doubtful if not antagonistic to the idea of Christian communities that would try to be self-sufficient and fill all the needs of their members in all respects, cultural, leisure, etc., because I think we should not be separated in anything which does not make us profoundly different – worship makes us profoundly different from a non-worshipping group. Our faith in Christ can make us profoundly different from people who actively reject Christ. These things – to take two examples – we have no community of life with, although we have a point of contact. It may be a point of friction, it may be a point of impact. And I think it’s terribly important that the Christians should be together with between themselves in all that is specifically their life and not other people’s life and together with others in everything else.
As to your second point (how can we do anything about our lack of joy, etc., which is a gift?), I think on the one hand of course it is a gift, but on the other hand, I don’t see that the gift is not offered now as it was then. Do we receive it, do we accept it? How do we treat it? I think that you find this in the early Church and among people who were either pagan and became Christian or unbelievers and became believers. When there is a moment in life when things have become transfigured, when things have become a new creation, then the sense of this newness can generates joy, a standing enthusiasm. And in connection with the content of the experience, faith in man because God has had faith in me, hope unbounded, a certain amount of love – all we are capable of – etc. What I think makes it difficult is that too often we are so accustomed to be Christian, we don’t make the fact that we are Christian at a moment of our life a personal event: we leave it as the common background, as it were. We have all the elements for this exulting joy and this outgoing attitude, but we don’t actualize them. They are there. God is not less active now than then, but we are no longer surprised. We find it so natural that there is nothing to rejoice about. And I think we have become blaze somehow. The gifts of God come and wee say, “Oh well, that’s the normal thing”, and when they don’t come we turn to God, or more habitually to someone else and say, “Well really He’s falling short of His duties”. I think the gifts are offered as they always were, I wonder how much we receive them because we haven’t got the same amazement and we don’t perceive the newness in the same way.