Creating Space for the Holy Spirit


 By The Rev. Canon James Kennaugh 

Reading up on the subject of the three streams—Word, Sacrament and Spirit—I was not surprised to see lots of critics and critiques. Most of it seems to be written by observers rather than practitioners, analyses from a viewing point on the riverbank rather than midstream. I am writing from the middle of the river that the three streams form when all three are allowed to flow together without restriction. My desire and intention is for my church, Kingdom Life Anglican Church, to be an Anglican community of faith fulfilling the mission and ministry of Christ, establishing the Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven. Doing His mission, His ministry, His way.

My background is lifelong Anglican. I can’t say cradle Episcopalian-turned-three-stream-Anglican because I was born, bred and buttered in the Church of Ireland, as they say in Dublin. I love the Church of Ireland like I love my family. I may not always agree with it, but it is my heritage, and I will always be grateful for the ethos and mindset it instilled in me. I also appreciate the ancient connection to Canterbury.

I believe that my call to the three-stream movement, at its simplest, is to seek to give full and equal expression to Word, Sacrament and Spirit, especially in worship. In worship, the first two are more tangible. You can hear the Word of God and “participate” in and celebrate the liturgy, and through these “streams” you can experience the third stream, the Holy Spirit. However, I believe that there is more the Holy Spirit wants to give us if we can provide the opportunities or space for Him to move among us.

Nicky Gumbel tells a story about a Sunday school class that was presenting the Apostle’s Creed as a dramatic reading during the Sunday service. After the line “And he will come to judge the living and the dead,” there was a deathly silence. The silence was broken by a voice exclaiming, “The boy who believes in the Holy Spirit is not here today!”

I get that! For years, I was not exposed to the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. I never saw anyone operate in the Gifts of the Spirit. I once got a dressing down from an archdeacon when I suggested that a certain prelate, who shall remain nameless, was more of a Binatarian that a Trinitarian, such was his lack of references to the third member of the Trinity.

For me, it’s a struggle to create space in the liturgy for the Holy Spirit to be present more powerfully and interactively. I am not a “charismaniac,” but I love joyful, exuberant worship and praise, and I recognize when the Holy Spirit is taking over. I also recognize you don’t have to go nuts to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

What is your take on the Spirit or third stream? Do you struggle with creating space in the liturgy for His movement? What have you found works to create space for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully? Let’s start a conversation and learn from one another.

The Rev. Canon James Kennaugh is rector of Kingdom Life Anglican Church in Naples, Florida.