You could argue that a lightning conductor is someone who collects fares rapidly, or who gets the orchestra to play very quickly. But the one I’m thinking about is the spike that is a lightning conductor just because of where it is placed and how it is connected.
They are usually found on church buildings, because they are the tallest in the area. Lightning (electricity) on its way down from the clouds to the earth will take the shortest route, and likes to focus on a point, hence their shape.
However, once it strikes the point, it then needs to get to the ground, so lightning conductors need a very high quality electrical connection to the ground – or they will choose the building instead! This is why the high quality copper connection is usually armoured – to stop it being stolen.
Not many of you will have stood in a pulpit, or at a lectern, to preach. It is like being a lightning conductor.
No, not a target for thunderbolts, but as a channel for God to speak to those gathered to listen. It is a place, with experience, you become familiar with, and get used to the Holy Spirit flowing. Sometimes fluently, sometimes haltingly, many times unbeknown to you. You, the congregation, are the ground that is receptive to God, not the preacher, and that is so vital for the preacher to be effective. God did use a donkey once, you know!
When people are given a chance to lead prayer, or share, or even read, you sometimes get a undeniable prompt that says ‘there is an effective connection here.’ We, as a congregation, have a history of placing people at the lectern to let God ‘conduct’ through them to prove them and enable them to ‘feel’ and grow in their ministry. Hannah and Karen have been proven, and are about to complete their training as lay readers, which affirms their ministry, and gives them a license to minister.
There are more in the pipeline, who won’t necessarily follow the same route, but will discover the gifts God wants them to share. Some of them I am aware of, others not yet. This isn’t the only ministry to grow into in church, far from it. But this is one of the few where everyone has a chance to effect the lightning by being the receptive ground.
Don’t quench the spirit, said Paul. Encourage, not discourage, in other words. We do have power to do both. Let’s choose to receive.