Friday, June 09, 2006

A very late pentecost sermon

I’ll be quite honest one of the most difficult subjects I ever find to talk about in the Church is the Holy Spirit.

I find talking about it is like trying to nail jelly to the wall
You can do it, but it is hard work and tends to make a mess
But more importantly, Jelly is meant to be eaten not nailed to a wall.
And the Holy Spirit is not something that should be nailed down either – nor should it be confined to words. So if this message comes across as shallow as trying to describe a great masters painting to a blind man, you can understand why

In the Acts reading the disciples are sitting in an upstairs room on the day of Pentecost – A Jewish harvest festival, what they were doing we don’t know, they may have been watching TV, or more likely having some type of Church thing.
When the Holy Spirit bursts in and generally messes with their little meeting. Nothing in their lives will be the same again… What happens next in their lives is like they have gone through an extreme makeover because the Holy Spirit – the breadth of God, transforms everything and everyone it touches.
Wizard of OZ – one of my favourite stories – Dorothy’s world is changed by the coming of a Tornado – she is whisked away in a dream. When she awakes back in Kansas– the world that was black and white is now filled with colour. It is not that the world has changed – But Dorothy has… She has changed…. And all because of a mighty wind…

It isn’t an accident that the image given to describe what the Holy Spirit is doing is like a wind, because wind shares many characteristics of the Holy Spirit. It can be gentle but it can arise from what seem like nowhere and turn the whole world upside down.

When the Holy Spirit blows through your life – you can expect change too. Paul talks a lot about these changes in the letters that he wrote in the NT.
These changes he compares to fruit on a tree. The Holy Spirit produces in us the fruit of the Spirit - love; joy; peace; patience; kindness; goodness; faithfulness; gentleness; self-control.
As the autumn wind blows Gail force outside our windows, blowing of the old leaves it allows new growth to come through – And that is how the Holy Spirit works in us. Removing the old selfish characteristics and allowing a new self to grow through. Dorothy would not have changed unless the wind had gotten hold of her, the disciples would never have established the Church without the Spirit, and the same is true for us…
God’s desire for us it to become Christ like –that where the word Christian comes from – little Christ. To tell the world about how much God loves it.
It won’t happen without the Holy Spirit blowing through our lives – sometimes as a gentle breeze easing us along, but also like a roaring hurricane – transforming our very character.

It can’t be harnessed to power wind turbines or bottled to make a refreshing air freshener – the Spirit blows where and when it wants to. Sometimes all we can do is hang on and enjoy the ride

To understand the Holy Spirit in words is like wearing a pair of gum boots on the beach and then trying to explain to someone what the sand feels like between your toes.
You have to take your shoes of – to understand the Holy Spirit you need to take your shoes off.

1 comment:

Sun Warrior said...

Perhaps the sermon should be titled 'Another taste of God.' Right after experiencing the bizarre acts of Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes in to confuse the issue even further.

The Trinity is the middling of the road for religions. Islam has just one rock solid God consciousness without worrying about the reality of the spirit world. Eastern religion has no specific consciousness attributed to God at all, but the spiritual affect of 'God.' Poor Christianity got the confusing end of the stick. Not enough info to realize the diversity of spirit beyond man, yet too little hint of spiritual reality beyond our inert matter.

I hadn't really thought of the additional confusion caused by the Holy Spirit. Jesus accomplished that goal well enough. It points out our spiritual illiteracy outside of human souls living in inert matter. We accept that as our lot. But people are rejecting the Church for this very reason. If we can use science to discover DNA and black holes, our spiritual thirst is now sated to know more spiritually about reality outside of just humans sitting in inert matter.

The Church is simply not equipped to handle these questions. It is structured to resist them. So it loses authority. This is the axis upon which spirituality pivots now.