Sudden Windstorm Let us pray….. Rev. Stuart Buisch
It’s not even June and the first named storm has hit the east coast. Mind you it didn’t alter the news significantly so it must not have been too great. Tornadoes have been in their ‘alley’ and other places since January. Wind seems to be a ‘natural’ thing. The birth of the church, the transition from a group of groupies around a prophet to an albeit small group whose words and works kept the Jesus Story not only alive but set it on the course to what the church is today. All because of wind.
Our Judeo- Christian heritage is not surprised by this. A central story for Jews is the exodus from Egypt. In that story an angel moves around the cloud/fire that is leading Israel out and puts it between the Jews and the Egyptians who are chasing their freed slaves. Then Moses stretches out his arm and the water of the red sea separates ‘as an East wind blows all night to dry the path for them.’ A wind changes the course of the deliverance to its final phase and victory.
In Acts, the apostles restored to twelve, plus 108 others, are in an upper room and WHAM the wind blows, fire comes without burning and people start saying things that everyone else can understand but the apostles can’t. Wind.
If you have ever seen the aftermath of a windstorm you are familiar with how this invisible force, seen only by its work can remove roofs, topple homes, scatter belongings from trash to cars/boats. All wind.
Does it strike you as curious that both of our traditions are so wind-centric? Are you remembering that wind is pretty ‘out of control’ in terms of humans? Could it be a problem for faith that today humans have created wind tunnels to test airplanes and other things and so we think we can even control that. The human mimicry of God with the art of invention confuses us to think there are no limits to our capacities. Are we remembering that farmers not just in the plains but even here in the northeast remove hedgerows of trees and shrubs and have changed their fields without these wind borders. The long term ecological impact of this removal teases us to greater power and wealth of harvest.
Sometime in our human history we have decided that we are the major movers and shakers and it only gets done if we do it. Wind challenges that mind set. Wind comes in to wherever we are and says a glorious yes or no. This property destroyed, that one ten feet to the left or right untouched. It all seems so arbitrary.
So what is the meaning of the Exodus and the Pentecost stories today for us in the Church?
John’s gospel declares something we all know, ‘the wind blows where it wills, no one knows the sound of it … where it comes and goes no one knows.’ The glorious history of the church of Jesus Christ is like this. If you have the pleasure of a life with no complications, no sudden turns, no catastrophes, the wind may not be your friend. However, in the midst of whatever surprise that appears in the details of your day, knowing the wind maker can give comfort. The history from the formation of the church today is full of awakenings, renewal, revival and a different side of decline, despair and infighting over what is right.
Curiously words are not part of the wind. At Pentecost all the strangers heard the faith story in their own words. The mouths of those 120 were certainly vehicles of those words but not based on understanding. The 120 didn’t understand what their mouths said, only the strangers gathering in Jerusalem did. Their lives were forever changed and as they returned each to their own country this new faith, new wind blew with them back home.
We do well to note that. Some of the most troubling words from clergy and Christians are intended to explain, comfort, console but they actually can have a very different impact. Wind destroys and wind can build a path for a new way. Flood waters clear out old silt from the riverbed making the river healthier in so many ways. So also if the wind can blow something away maybe this is an opportunity to access the need of that thing(s).
What could the wind of the Spirit do today? How could a new breeze change the complexion and ministry of the church? What things are in the way? What would a sandblasting wind disclose that remains clearly out of our sight line right now?
Our continued task in 2020 as the church is to tell the faith story. To recount that God became human so humans could connect with God. Our purpose is to Love the Lord with all that we are and to express some of that love in the way we encounter each other. Our encounter with our neighbors is not simply our words but also all that we do not say.
The wind and fire of Pentecost was thorough to the whole group in the upper room. It was also thorough to the whole crowd of visitors gathered that day in Jerusalem. The Wind of God reaches inclusively to everyone in our backyard. The deliverance from bondage sets all who hear/listen to a new freedom. It was sudden, even if the apostles were expecting it, like the new pains of labor to a first-time mother. Being wind it was out of human control and direction. Could the new church have started in any other way? Were there humans that could have committee-ed such a thing into being?
Jesus reminds us at the end of the sermon on the mount that if our homes are built solidly there is no reason to fear. But we can be sure that storms will come to test where our faith is entrusted, amen.
Holy God, open our eyes to the new ways you would work in us today…
Gracious God, grant us sympathy for the sadness, despair and loss around us…
Kind God, seal our work with the sign of your love in our words, ways and works…