May 15, 2016:" The Windy Spirit"

Text: Acts 2:1-21; Genesis 11:1-9;          Pentecost Sunday                     Sandy Nuernberg

Psalm 104:24-34,35b; John 14:6-17     Reception for Pastor                 Pastor

Title: “The Windy Spirit!”                       Mission Breakfast Sunday

First Presbyterian Church                       Sunday, May 15th, 2016           Pardeeville, WI

 

Please pray with me, O God, as you breathe your power of life and breath into each of us here today, we thank you that your Holy Spirit has come to us, brought us together. Your Spirit brings life, truth, wisdom, energy, and unity, all in the identity of us as your church. Help us listen with open ears and speak in the tongues you have given us, that we might find comfort and understanding through you.         AMEN.

            You and I recognize the Christian calendar in celebrating Christmas as the birthday of the Christ Child. We also celebrate with the rest of the world this Day of Pentecost, being the birthday of the church; it is in children’s messages often on this day. Yes, it is the fiftieth day of Easter, (the word, Pentecost means fifty days), as we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit in God’s truth. I love this celebratory day in hearing of the violent wind, fire, visions, signs, dreams; I will always remember this day and the partnering, if you will, the Sacrament of baptism as it is publicly where we receive the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of God’s Word and work within us is the cornerstone of Reformed theology (PC (USA)).

            Many times we Presbyterians make light of the power of the Holy Spirit; as we shield/keep ourselves from its experience. I mean we hear God’s Word through preaching the text at worship, yet in the Calvinistic approach, or not, we don’t always recognize or express our personal spiritual experiences—we just don’t find comfort in it. I think Luke (author of Luke and Acts) brings about an expression of the dream or imagination (a kind of vision) we might have of the Holy Spirit within and active in us.

            Can you think of any time or place when you did not know what anyone was saying around you? Really!! Editor, Jill Duffield, of Presbyterian Outlook, referred to this as ‘living in a bubble’ meaning not being part of cultural norm these days. She says we should all invite the personal experience in doing so!  (‘Looking into the Lectionary’,  http://mail.aol.com/webmail-std/en-us , The Presbyterian Outlook, May 9, 2016). It could have been at a mall, at the grocery store, or next to someone at a restaurant, or even at worship.

            I did about twelve years ago; I was asked to fill the pulpit and lead worship at the Korean Presbyterian Church on Madison’s west-side. I was next to a choir member as we were in a circle near the front of the sanctuary for a prayer together before worship—there were about 15 or 18 of us. We bowed in prayer and everyone said a few words in their native tongue—I was overcome greatly by the tones, the quickness in cadence, yet softness as well as boldness of cantor in their speech. I saw what was happening before I actually experienced it all. I was used to knowing what was said, and I listened intently. For the rest of the service I had an interpreter right by my side to give the worshippers the English to Korean translation! It was memorable for be to be a part of this service.

            It seems right that this miracle of the Holy Spirit comes to us this day, as it empowered those 3,000 nearly 2,000 years ago and who were baptized. (Acts 2:37-41); fifty days following the first Easter morn there was no Christian church in Jerusalem. Last Sunday we remember Jesus prayed for ‘unity’ in the Spirit; this Sunday Jesus in the Holy Spirit, on Pentecost, brings a strong sense of unity in the crowd together.

            Yes, some had seen the resurrection of Jesus back then, yet others had wrestled with making sense of it all. At Pentecost, in receiving that miraculous gift of the Spirit, that breath of fresh air (breath), that truth of life of the Holy One, the early apostles were then filled with the energy/courage to hear/speak as the Spirit gave them the ability. 

            In our story in the Acts of the Apostles, or as many of you know I call the Acts of  “the Spirit,” we are amazed by the rush of the wind that overcomes them as they were gathered in a crowd, many of them together but each of them hearing ‘in the native tongue of each.’ They were hearing all around them those speaking of ‘God’s deeds of power.’ They wondered how they could hear in their own native language, and speak so others understood them. What does all this mean to us on this Pentecost Sunday today?

            What it all really meant was what had been told them earlier by prophecy (Acts 2:17-21 and Joel 2:28-32); it now was being renewed. A new beginning was upon these thousands of believers; that is what we celebrate today in the beginning of the church. It is our own new life of faith through the work of God’s Holy Spirit; the Spirit of truth, the Advocate, and it is to be with us forever.

            One Sunday some time ago I had a friend, Craig Wilson, a kite expert ( http://www.fromakite.com ) and ( http://www.fromakite.com/hanging-by-a-thread )  author on kites, from Madison, come to my congregation and ‘show-off’ his beautiful, wind-filled kites; it was a visible example of hearing and seeing the Spirit in our midst. Craig was the originator of the February winter Kite Show on Lake Monona, and kites came in all shapes, sizes, colors from around the world for this parade of kites.

            I mean, in our sanctuary, we could hear the rumble, windy Spirit vibrate past our ears, as he controlled their movement just above us; have you ever thought of this in flying kites? No words were needed; it was visionary, experiencing God’s presence, perhaps unreformed! It was a new way of experiencing the Holy Spirit in our midst!

            Actually, now, at Pentecost is the right time to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, and to envision our church’s spiritual life a bit more in depth. Yes, it’s a birthday of sorts, yet we can become aware in a whole new way of the nearness, the personal spiritual relationship we have together along with God in our presence.

            We remember God’s presence vividly, in the beginning in God’s Word (Genesis) when God created the heavens and the earth; a wind from God swept over and we received the light from darkness, the day from night, the land from the seas, In God’s power and ‘handy-work’ God saw that in each great and glorious day of creation, it was all good!

            Pentecost is a time to realize the spiritual nature of God, to recognize God’s deeds of power (in creation, in wisdom, and of truth) and to grasp the windy Spirit, the breathed-in fresh air of new life in God; it comes to us that we might have new life in Christ. Even in the tremendous tragedy of Christ’s resurrection, God has chosen us, called us by name, and promised a purpose for each of us.

            We are all together in one place, as one in the church, as they were in that time and place, receiving the Spirit in listening, speaking in our own tongues of faith. We need the power of the Hoy Spirit for new ears, new eyes, and new lips in talking in tongues of understanding towards each other. That ‘windy’ Spirit gives us the ability to make us God’s disciples in spreading the gospel news to the world, God’s deeds of power, on Pentecost, and always.   

 

                                                                                    Thanks be to God.             AMEN.

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