Keep hoisting sails until one catches the wind. . .
One Sunday a little boy asked his mother if he could go to Church by himself. You see, the lad’s mother had a case of the flu and wasn’t able to take him as usual.
She allowed him to go on two conditions. The first, of course, was that he had to be very good. . . and the second was that he had to tell her what the sermon was about.
The little boy arrived back from church, and as soon as he hit the door, his mother asked, Were you good at church?
Yes, I was Mom!
Now tell me; what did the minister preach about? —
No, Mom, I can’t tell you. It didn’t make any sense!
It had to make some sense, she protested. Just tell me what you heard.
Well, OK, but I’m telling you it doesn’t make sense. The minister told us not to worry, that we’d get our quilt.
We’d get our quilt? He must have said more than that.
But no matter how much she quizzed her son, she could not get any more information from him.
Finally, in desperation, she phoned the minister and explained what the boy had said. The minister started to laugh out loud . . . in fact, he laughed so hard that he could barely speak.
When he finally collected himself, he said, You’d get your quilt, huh? Well, I can see how he arrived at that interpretation of my sermon. The title was based on the verse from the Gospel of John, FEAR NOT, YOUR COMFORTER WILL COME!
Of all the describers of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, COMFORTER has a nice ring to it don’t you think? It almost sounds like the Third Person of the Holy Trinity is One who will fluff your pillow and gently massage us where it hurts.
Well, before you snuggle up too tightly in that comforter, you might want to take a closer look at just what the Holy Spirit has been up to since the first Chapter of Genesis!
When you look at some of those places in the Bible where the Holy Spirit is mentioned, you’ll find that God’s Spirit has a very unique way of comforting to say the least.
As you may remember, the word we translate as Spirit, in both Hebrew and Greek, is the word for wind.
Even the word Ghost in Holy Ghost is an Older English form of the word Gust. The Holy Gust of wind!
The first place we hear of the Wind of God is at Creation. It is the Spirit that hovers over the unruly waters and brings order and life from disarray and death.
But creation didn’t just happen and then stop. We now know that the universe has never stopped expanding. Who dares to look out the window in the morning and say that creation has ceased?
And so we dare to pray to the wind: At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth our Island home.
If you’ll pardon the pun . . . in this case the comfort came with a BIG BANG!
In the Gospel of Luke, the Spirit of God came upon one Mary of Nazareth . . . I wouldn’t exactly say that warm fuzzies blew into her room that day. Before you can say, Merry Christmas, she and Joseph are all packed up and headed for the little town of Bethlehem; they’re on the run.
And the Spirit breathed into one Jesus of Nazareth at his Baptism in the Jordan . . . and with one gigantic gust, Jesus heads into the wilderness; he’s on the move.
And today we move up to our Pentecost reading from The Acts of the Apostles.
And where do you find the Disciples? All huddled together, once again, in the Upper Room.
They are still listening for noises out in the hallway. They know the news is good, but they are telling it in a whisper. Praise God, but keep the doors locked, is their motto.
I wonder if they would have ever left that house if the Holy Gust hadn’t blown through the room that day. But blow it did, and Pentecost was re-defined forever. What began as a secret meeting in the Upper Room, turned into an open air telethon in the Streets of Jerusalem.
Pentecost symbolizes a church on the move. As the Gospel hymn proclaims, Filled with the Spirit we are sent to serve. We are called out together, we are called to work.
The Spirit is a movin’…. all over…. all over…. this land.
It sounds to me like the Spirit is a movin, and we are expected to do the same!
I know that the Spirit has been on the move in our churches. Look around you; I think you will see that we are witnesses to a Spirit that has been a movin’ in some marvelous, if not incredible ways.
The church has a long history of adherence to Jesus’ great commandment to Love one another, and our church has made a conscious decision to follow the other great commandment of Jesus, toDo this in remembrance of me.
Even when the greater church was pulling back and giving the sometimes not so subtle message to cut your losses and proclaimed the mediocre news that low attendance levels are the new normal, the Holy Spirit has continued to work in and through the small, but mighty leaders who remained steadfast in their desire to reach our to others with love and to do God’s will.
The Holy Spirit has nudged our churches to continue to step out in faith.
I saw this in my own parish in Ukiah. At a time when many churches were considering ways to downsize, we added chairs to the nave, we turned up the lights as well as the sound of music in our sanctuary as we reached out to others in welcome.
Don’t give up. Just when we think it might be time for a little break in the action, Pentecost comes around, and we find ourselves celebrating the blowing wind again, and we are reminded that as followers of Jesus Christ we never really know when the Third Person of the Holy Trinity might blow through the windows of the church like a Holy Gust.
Now you may think, our church is running very nicely; we’re just fine here. In the past I have thought, we have good leadership in place; I’m sure there are other churches more in need of the Holy Spirit’s loving nudge than ours, but that’s when I hear Jesus telling his disciples, The wind will blow where it will.
A man once took his grandson out sailing. The boy seemed quiet and pensive, and finally asked, Grandpa, how does the wind blow?
The man answered, I don’t know. . . but I do know how to hoist a sail.
So this is the question we need to ask ourselves this and every Pentecost: Are we still in the mood to catch the wind? Are the windows open, and our hearts ready?
You know, the priest and the vestry aren’t the only ones who can hoist sails in the church.
The miracle of Pentecost was that everyone heard God’s message in their own native tongue. The message wasn’t in some specialized ecclesiastical language. God spoke in such a way that everyone gathered there could understand.
If the Holy Spirit speaks to you. If you think you might know which direction the wind will be blowing, or should be blowing, then get hold of a vestryperson or drop by the pastor’s office, or shoot that E-mail off to a church leader. Find a way to hoist the sail and catch the wind.
It won’t always be comfortable, but I guarantee it will make for exciting times ahead.
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