Getting Pretty Windy Out There 6-8-14

This sermon comes from Acts 2:1-21. The Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples at Pentecost, enabling them with spiritual gifts. This same spirit is still active in the world today, and I explore that throughout the sermon.

You can listen to the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/getting-pretty-windy-out-there-6-8-1

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

It’s safe to say that we had one heck of a storm last Tuesday night didn’t we? The rain fell, the wind was howling…hail fell, branches broke, sheds blew over, fields flooded and crops were stripped. It was certainly not a laughing matter by any sense of the word.

But as I talked with various individuals in the days following Tuesday night’s storm, I heard a trend. Yah, there was some damage, but everyone’s okay…and that’s the important thing. In pretty much every conversation that I had, once we reached that important point, then we broke into grins, and we started to tell a few jokes, and we all started chuckling.

In one instance, I was out visiting with a couple of our members and we got to talking about old storms that we’ve lived through. Various thunderstorms and blizzards…and I recounted the tail of living through a little debacle known as Hurricane Charlie…summer 2004. Emily and I, together with about an 8-month old Jack were vacationing in Orlando FL. About midway through the week, they started talking Hurricane…but all information indicated that it would miss Orlando, tracking farther south…reality though, was a little different.

In the end…Charlie decided that he wanted to spend the night in Orlando as well…and the category 3 hurricane came roaring into the city right about nightfall. The three of us hunkered down in our hotel room, as there wasn’t much else that we could…but fortunately, the outside door of our hotel room was blocked by a very wide support beam…giving us the added protection of a very sturdy wall between us and the elements…at one point, well past dark when we could hear the storm raging, I harnessed my inner farmer, and stepped outside to take a look. It was really wet…and the wind was howling…but that seemed to be about it.

When I stepped back into the room Emily asked me “Well, what’s it like?” I smiled and said “Well, its getting pretty windy out there.”

By morning, the storm had passed, and we ventured out and about. I was surprised at the amount of damage that had occurred, because to my untrained eye, the storm that I had witnessed the night before seemed about like one of the all too common thunderstorms that we experience here in the Midwest…storms that you’ve all lived through as well…and perhaps many of you have done the very same thing that I did that night in Orlando…stood at a door or a window…when you really should probably be in the basement…and watched the storm…only to have the same thought I had…hmm…It’s getting pretty windy out there. (pause)

All kidding aside…it is really amazing to realize just how powerful the wind can be isn’t it? The wind…quite simply air moving around in response to the environment can…and as we saw Tuesday night…does go far beyond our control. Late Tuesday evening we were watching the news, and one of the Omaha stations showed a time lapse video from late afternoon as the clouds slowly built, blowing on the light wind in the normal direction…when suddenly, Mother Nature decided she wanted to move things differently…and on the video, suddenly a giant cloud bank came flying back through the picture in the complete opposite direction from normal. And as much as well hoped to control where the wind was blowing…that video reminded everyone watching that the wind blows where it will and nothing you do or think is going to stop it. (pause)

And now with all this talk of wind, let me switch gears over into the scripture lesson for today. Pentecost…the church’s birthday…the day when decided it was high time that the disciples got to work. 10 days after Jesus has ascended to heaven, the disciples are gathered together in Jerusalem…as are countless other Jewish people from all around the known world…gathered for the harvest festival of Pentecost.

Now we don’t know exactly what was going on other than as the disciples are sitting there together in the house…a wind that I can only imagine made Hurricane Charlie pale in comparison…came rushing through the entire house…but not just wind…for just the second time in scripture…the Holy Spirit shows up in a physical form. The first time was the dove at the baptism of Jesus…but this time around…it’s a little different isn’t it? There’s nothing calm and serene about this scene.

No…this time…the spirit comes blowing in as tongues of fire…resting on each of the disciples…now between the wind and the fire…this had to be a little freaky for the disciples…but just what their emotional reaction to the situation is, we don’t know…all we do know is that they start spouting off in different languages…as the spirit gave them ability.

But they weren’t just babbling away…they were proclaiming God’s amazing deeds of power…and not just that…but they were doing so according to the various languages of all those other Jewish individuals in the city that were attracted to the disturbance of the Spirit blowing through the house. (pause)

Now as I think about this whole scene, I find myself pondering on the form of the Holy Spirit…and admittedly it’s a head scratcher. Of the trinity, the Holy Spirit is often times the one that lacks proper understanding. We believe in it…oh yes we do…we confess belief in the trinity…including the Spirit each and every week here in worship…but I think the Spirit…its just kinda tough to put our fingers on that one isn’t it? We’ve got God the father…the creator…and while we don’t know just what God looks like in his heavenly form, we heard in the creation that humanity was made in God’s image…so I guess God looks just a little like us…and then we’ve got the Son…God in human form…and as human he probably looks a whole lot like we do…but then there’s the spirit…that has no form at all. Its simply the spirit of God, or the breathe of God.

And that right there is an important point. Through scripture, old and new testament, the spirit of God is often depicted as either wind or breathe…and perhaps it will come as no surprise to you that the same words are used for all three…wind, breath, spirit…its either pnuema in the Greek, or Ruach in the Hebrew. (pause) And it seems, in every single instance that God himself is the source.

God breathes life into Adam…in the short passage we heard from John’s gospel Jesus breathes on the disciples to give them the spirit, and here in Acts the spirit blows in like a mighty wind…So either God just likes it to be pretty windy, or maybe just maybe, the almighty…all powerful spirit of God is so amazingly strong, that when it blows past us we can actually feel it.

And that same spirit that came blowing into the house in the middle of Jerusalem 2000 year ago…that same spirit that empowered the disciples in that moment to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in languages that they neither knew nor understood…that same spirit of God…has remained throughout the ages…the same spirit is present here and now and though we might not see any tongues of fire flipping around…the spirit is still here…resting on each and every one of you…and just as we heard from 1 Corinthians, it is the spirit which grants many different gifts…and those gifts of the spirit have an intended purpose.

For some it is the gift of proclamation. We saw that with the disciples…others have the gift of teaching…other’s have the gift of compassion…some for organization…some for planning…some for building…there are countless gifts supplied by the spirit…and as Peter shared from the prophet Joel…the spirit which God pours out on all people…allows some to dream dreams…old and young, men and women…there is distinction.

And this is important to note…because it is through the dreams and visions supplied by the Spirit that God continues to act and lead and guide the church into the future. It is those dreams that reveal the direction that God is leading…the direction that spirit is blowing…the direction that wind will carry God’s church.

Because while Pentecost may be considered by many to be the birthday of the church itself…I believe its more important to realize that it was simply the time when the Spirit started blowing…and it’s never stopped because the Spirit has been, is now, and will continue to blow throughout this world.

And so we can either chose to try and stand against the wind and get blown over…or we can choose to ride with the wind and see where God will carry us. Friends in Christ…together we have seen that the Spirit is blowing here our community…a week ago we held what I hope to be the first of many annual block parties…Our first try was a huge success, and even the mayor commented that it was a boost that this town has been needing. And that whole event began as a dream…a dream that was shared and together, using the various gifts and talents provided by the Spirit, the body of Christ pulled it off and we made our presence known within the community. But the Spirit isn’t done yet? And we all have dreams…and we all have abilities that the Spirit grants us. I feel it building here at Underwood Lutheran…and that’s exciting as we continue to move from in here…to out there…and you know what…and the Spirit continues to move in this community…I think its getting pretty windy out there. Amen.

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