• Kevin Archer

Divine harmonies...

Last year a group of Finnish singers visited the island and I encountered a phenomenon I had never heard before.

Sitting in on a chanting workshop with a couple of guests staying with us, I thought I heard some whistling as a sustained harmonic chant developed in the room. I learned afterwards that I had experienced polyphonic overtone singing - basically the ability of the human voice to produce two notes simultaneously, one in a register above the other. You need to hear it in action and a friend we'd come to know the previous year (and with whom and her husband I'd swum for the first and only time so far in the North Sea - but that's another story!) directed us to the woman in this video who had taught a course she had enrolled in.

It sounds quite strange and unnatural - almost otherworldly - mainly because most of us have never heard it. And yes, I have had a go but with limited success - I need more practice.

This did get me thinking, however, about how this is a helpful picture or paradigm of how God wants to work with us. Put simply, we live, speak and act in one dimension while alongside us the Holy Spirit brings his 'overtones' into play, communicating or releasing power in given situations.

I have long felt in one sense that none of us 'has a ministry'; rather, as Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 3, it is 'the ministry of the Spirit' which we need. In the opening of the first chapter of Acts, Luke writes about all that 'Jesus began to do and teach' - implying that He continued to do this by his Spirit, promoting the exciting growth of the early church. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit, says Jesus in John's gospel.

I have heard preachers tell how they have been afterwards approached and thanked for certain thoughts and comments which they haven't spoken - yet they have been heard by the individual! I once spoke at a Chinese fellowship and was simultaneously translated into Mandarin - and trusted that it was my words being communicated! How exciting to think that the Holy Spirit might 'translate independently'!

I love the story of how Peter, having been persuaded by the Spirit to visit the household of the gentile Cornelius, is effectively interrupted mid-discourse by the Holy Spirit 'stepping in' and coming upon them 'as on us at the beginning' as Peter explains later in Jerusalem.

We are called to 'keep in step' with the Holy Spirit and what a wonderful picture this offers us as we seek to walk as partners with him in His ministry.

As with overtone singing - keep practising...