Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pentecost sermon

Blow, Spirit, Blow!
Acts 2:1-18

Midwesterners are tuned in to what is blowing in the wind. You don’t grow up in tornado alley without being very interested in which way the wind is blowing and what kind of system is blowing in, and . . . this time of the year especially, the chances for a violent wind to blow through. I wonder if it is some sort of a coincidence that Pentecost - our windiest Christian holiday - also fall at the same time of year that the National Weather Service declares time for “Severe Weather Preparedness”.

The church’s sacred story relates that The Gift of the Holy Spirit, on that Pentecost long ago, was accompanied by a mighty wind that blew through the place where the disciples were gathered and turned them into the church. But the Holy Spirit wasn’t just a one time event. To the extant that it still blows, the church remains vibrant and alive and an exciting group to hang around. To the extant that the mighty wind of God still blows, the people in this room are empowered to change the world in the 21st century, just as Peter and the women and men around him changed the world in Century 1.

Think with me about how Pentecost still happens, how the wind blows, in our lives today:

The wind blows things away.
It’s a funny expression, and can be used in a couple ways: blow away is to utterly destroy - or to be completely impressed. Think about a more mundane usage:
Every fall I long for a strong wind to come because I want it to blow away the leaves in my yard. I love a good strong wind.

How is God’s gift of the Holy Spirit like that in our lives? Think about some of the things - things that are lying around your spiritual yard - that you’d be glad for the spirit of god to blow away: Aren’t there things like leaves - lifeless, used up, dried up, no longer beautiful aspects of life that the violent wind of the Spirit might blow away? Think about grudges. Self-limiting expectations - that little voice that says, “My little bit doesn’t matter. I can’t make a difference here.” What about “insane” ways of dealing with problems. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. All of us have a touch of insanity at times. What if the
Spirit blew away that craziness.
Part of the human condition - baptists call it “sin” - is that we actually get used to these dead leaves in our lives. We go out and instead of raking them up - we nail them down. We superglue them to our porches and eaves. We may even begin to think they are holding the house together. We NEED the Holy Spirit to come like a violent, mighty wind and blow this stuff out of our lives. And when the Spirit comes, we need to welcome it - Blow, Spirit Blow! Blow our used up, dried up old lifelessness away!

That’s one way the wind blows - it blows things away. And we also say, “Blow UP”
Blow up, too, can be used to describe an explosion. But I want to think about a gentler kind of blowing up: . . . like breath that inflates a balloon, making it bigger and better. where can our life and our faith be expanded by the Spirit. Tell the story of Cinco de Mayo with the ministers at a party bar. The possibilities of who God is working on, and how God might work with us was radically expanded. Where can the Spirit expand your life?

So the spirit can blow away. it can blow up. And, one last expression: it can blow through. This is the way the spirit often works in the Bible: by blowing through human beings, . . . like the wind that blows through an instrument. Think about the last band concert you attended, or football game with a marching band at half time. Did you look at all the different instruments in the band? Was there an alphorn? Not a marching band instrument!! Reeds, brass, whistles, we are each a unique instrument, fashioned by God to vibrate with life and beauty. What will it feel like, what will it sound like if you let the spirit blow through your life. At Pentecost, Peter became the disciple Jesus knew he could be. Not through his own effort, but by the power of the Spirit. This Pentecost, we can become the men and women - the boys and the girls - that God created us to be.

While the rest of the world observes “severe weather preparedness” pentecost remind us that the church is called to practice “mighty wind preparedness”
Look for signs of the mighty wind of the spirit blowing through your life and the life of this church:
Blowing away what is lifeless and dead, so that something new can grow
Blowing up - expanding and inflating - our vision of our work in God’s world.
Blowing through us - making with each of our lives sweet music for God’s band.

Pentecost still comes with a mighty wind.
Let the church greet it gladly,
saying, “Blow, Spirit, Blow”

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