Rites in the Spirit
Rites in the Spirit approaches Pentecostal practices and experiences with an approach often not seen by Pentecostals. Through identifying Pentecostal distinctiveness with rites terminology, the book proves that they have astonishing effect on the believers’ formation. In the light of Albrecht’s work this paper will reflect on: (1) ritual time, space and identity, (2) fundamental structure and modes, (3) positive consequences and (4) characteristic qualities and formational role of Pentecostal practices and experiences.
Ritual Time, Space and Identity
Albrecht explains that Pentecostal experience of spirituality has effect on time as spirituality is affected by the experience itself. He further proposes three time cycles as a characteristic: (1) weekly/annual events, (2) lifetime and (3) the time of the worship service. The worship time itself contains three distinct elements: (1) the worship, (2) the message and (3) the alter service. On the same page, the author writes that in the process of the Pentecostal service momentary/spontaneous encounters with God are often present as a part of the worship.
While time forms the Pentecostal field for ritual, space provides the physical boundaries. Albrecht identifies several space related issues and their prominence for Pentecostal worship. He states that the worship space reveals the attitude of the Pentecostal congregation. He speaks of the sanctuary as a “ritual place” where the Pentecostal services are performed. In this setting, there is space for the congregation and its dynamics (congregational space) and for the leadership (platform). Finally, Albrecht properly notices that there is also an “alter space” where the congregation and leadership come together.
In the time and space of Pentecostal worship, different people assume different roles or identities. Five are pointed out by the text: (1) worshiper, (2) prophet, (3) minister, (4) learner and (5) disciple. (pp. 136-43). The Pentecostal congregation has a main role in the worship service, as the believer’s worship is viewed as a direct offering to God. The mystical element in a Pentecostal worship service is a result of the desire to experience God directly and intimately. The personal experience with God opens the worship to supernatural intervention and the ministry of the Spirit. The very presence of spiritual gifts challenges the individual believer to become a leader, while this spiritual mode is both recognized and evaluated by the congregation.
The goal of these aspects of Pentecostal worship is a personal encounter with God and spiritual transformation of the believer. In this context, the ritual time, space and identity are expressed in Pentecostal worship through preaching, prophetic uttering, healing, miracles, etc. These elements express awareness of a given individual/corporate problem/situation as spontaneous manifestations of supernatural power and leadership challenge not only the traditional leadership forms, but effect social structures as well.
Fundamental Structure and Modes
Albrecht explores the structures and modes of the Pentecostal worship. By structures he understands the elements of the service. He places several of these in the following paradigm: (1) worship and praise, (2) pastoral message and (3) altar/response as transitions occur between them. These structures reveal the role of each believer in the corporate worship. They also reflect on the needs that each individual brings in the corporate setting of the Pentecostal worship.
The modes on the other hand, deal with the emotional aspect of the service. They can be: celebrative, contemplative, officious, penitent, estates, etc. These are the ways through which the believers respond to the structure of the service. In a way, the modes are each believer’s personal expression in the unified corporate setting of the worship service.
The structure and the modes:
(1) reveal the roles of each believer in the process of the service
(2) express human concerns; these are micro rites, like singing and music, through which an expression of the believer’s humanity is given
(3) express social structure; expresses the group’s social life and role in society
(4) reveal theological relations – express theological convictions and beliefs
(5) express relationship to God as a personal experience
(6) express relationship as community – how the body comes together and how the believer acts as a part of the body
(7) accent on relationship to the worlds as a mission approach and an evangelistic attempt
(1) Liminality – has to deal with a tripartite structure that marks a significant change in status. The liminal is the moment between the before and after of the event, and is, as it were, outside of the security of these more stable definitions.
(2) Community – deals with relationships between people under liminal conditions.
(3) Reflexivity – a self-conscious examination of the individual believer in the corporate context of Pentecostal worship
(4) Transformation – deals with both the changes taking place in the believer as well as the changes in the congregation as a whole.
Characteristics Qualities and Formational Role
The characteristic qualities within Pentecostal worship have a formational role for the individual believer through:
(1) offering leadership toward the experience of God
(2) creating a community atmosphere in which spirituality, leadership, ministry and mission of the Christian community are clearly envisioned
(3) motivating the believer to both allow and implement formation in the context of the community
(4) practicing spirituality in the context of the Christian community and as a mission to the world