Hamilton: Listening to the Holy Spirit
By Fred Koenig
When Adam Hamilton was ordained in Missouri, Annual Conference Session was at Central Methodist University in Fayette, and ordination was at Linn Memorial UMC. That was 27 years ago, and he was 22 years old. He graduated high school and college early, and was enrolled in seminary.
“I wanted to save the world, but I wasn’t sure how,” Hamilton said. “The bishop asked about three general rules. I couldn’t remember what they were, but I agreed to practice them. Bishop Handy and Bishop Frank laid hands on me, and pressed down hard. Bishop Handy had this bellowing voice that sounded like the voice of God.”
This year Hamilton was the preacher for the ordination service in the Missouri Conference. He’s well known as pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, a 20,000 member church that is the largest church in the Kansas City area and the largest United Methodist Church in the world.
Hamilton reminded the ordinands that it is the Holy Spirit that does the work, relaying how the day before when he flew home from the Dakotas, he tried to call his wife from the airport, but his phone was dead.
“My iPhone can do amazing things, but without power it is worthless,” he said. “If you don’t have the spirit’s power, all the degrees and certificates you have mean nothing. Our own power is grossly inadequate for the task we have at hand.”
He told the story of a big Christmas Eve service he had coming up at Church of the Resurrection, and as he was walking into the church, he heard the Holy Spirit say, “You didn’t pray much this week, did you?”
“So I ran into the church and tried to make up for a week of prayer, praying really fast up and down the aisles. The first couple of services, I felt dead and hollow. Then, when I was praying before the next service, I heard the Holy Spirit say, ‘I’m going to show you what it’s like when I help you’,” Hamilton said.
His wife attended the first and last service. After the last service, she asked how he had found time to change sermons between the two. The last sermon was moving people throughout the sanctuary. After the first sermon people only commented on liking the music.
“The New Testament says the spirit will give you power,” Hamilton said. “The spirit speaks all the time. The problem is, I’m usually not listening.”
Hamilton told how once when he was changing flights in the Atlanta airport, he saw a man on the ground who had just experienced a heart-attack. At first he just said a prayer for him and went on, but he felt nudged by the spirit, so even though security made him stay back, he returned to the man and prayed for him at a distance until the emergency medical technicians took him away.
That next Sunday after church, Hamilton was approached by a member who said he was having a very rough week. His father had a heart attack at the airport in Atlanta that week and died. He couldn’t get over the thought of him dying on the floor of the airport alone. Hamilton shared that he was with his father, praying for him, when he passed.
“It was a God moment, and I almost missed it,” he said.
In another instance, Hamilton had been out to a restaurant before church, and the waitress ended up sitting down with him for half an hour, talking to him about faith. He shared this with the congregation as an illustration of how they can share their faith wherever they go.
A few days later he was at a different restaurant, needing to do some work on a manuscript of his book, and a couple of women from his church saw him, and asked them to join them for dinner. At first he declined the offer, because he needed to work on his book. But then he felt nudged by the spirit again, so he did join them. One of the women shared how she had only started attending church again a few weeks ago, having quit three years prior when she had gotten divorced.
When Hamilton told the story about sharing his faith with the waitress the previous Sunday, she had prayed, “Jesus, I wish he would sit down to talk with me sometime.” A couple of weeks later, the woman’s adult sons were in church, and they approached Hamilton and told him that he wouldn’t believe the impact that sharing that one dinner with their mother had on her life.
Hamilton concluded with the Robert Louis Stephenson story about the young boy watching the lamplighter work his way down the street, who, when asked what he was doing, replied, “I’m watching that man knock holes in
“That’s what you are to do with the power of the Holy Spirit, knock holes in the darkness,” he said.
Those who were ordained elder in full connection were Ronald James Beaton, Adam K. Caldwell, Emily Lorraine Carroll, Michael D. Costanzo, Trevor Dancer, Lucas Endicott, Alice Frescoln Fowler, Trista Denae Soendker-Nicholson, Keith Vessell, and Bryan Wendling.
Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase was presiding Bishop. Bishop Ann Sherer-Simpson, who was Bishop of the Missouri Area from 1992 – 2004, also participated in the service. Music was provided by First UMC of Salem in the Ozarks North District.