Whoosh and whisper 052415
Romans 8:22-27; Acts 2:1-21
This past week some of our Heart Listening small group went to hear John Philip Newell, an author and teacher of Celtic Spirituality. He was not a dynamic speaker; his voice was soft and melodic, without a lot of inflection, and he was slow-speaking. And yet, God spoke to me, to the three of us, that night….
And since I was already thinking about Pentecost and today’s service, that got me thinking about the work of God’s spirit in our lives, in the world. In today’s texts we have signs that God’s spirit works in various ways…in Acts it’s the sound and rush of a mighty wind, with a vision of fiery fingers touching the Jerusalem Jesus followers who’d been waiting for a word from God….and in the letter to the followers in Rome, we hear the Spirit comes “in sighs too deep for words”…..
Sometimes the Spirit comes with a WHOOSH! And sometimes with a whisper.
Someone in our SLB group this week mentioned the sound of the wind in a tornado, sounding like a train rushing in, and we hear a whoosh where the sound cries out from the universe: ENOUGH! I hear it nightly if I watch the news… Enough selfishness, enough religious extremism, enough human arrogance arrogance, enough abuse of the earth….
Or we hear a Whoosh in an unexpected confrontation of our own sins: prejudice, narrow-mindedness, abuse of relationships, harmful habits.
….whoosh in the sudden realization of our own mortality, and failure to be all God dreams for us…
……And sometimes we hear the whoosh when the sound cries, GO! any emerging consciousness can come like a whoosh….as one friend said to me, the truth struck me like a 2 by 4. GO, says the spirit, New life and energy and purpose lies ahead…. There is love and mercy and justice work to be done... And to our foolish amazement the Spirit says, you, yes you
Watch out for the whoosh! And I mean that literally as well as spiritually! Be alert and expectant like those Jerusalem Jesus people.
But the spirit can also come to us like a whisper, and need to listen in for that quieter sound….. the quiet slow dawning of a new understanding.... a deep sigh of grief that opens body and soul to the Spirit’s touch on that un-nameable hurt….. that restless urge to find purpose in a harried life…. The longing for healing from a chronic illness…. hat yearning for peace in a troubled world……
Most of us would rather hear the whisper….(quote from “Fragments of the Ancient Name” May 18 Holy Spirit)
It’s quiet, softer, nicer, personal/private….it has no real implications because I can pretend I didn’t hear or understand…
But today’s celebration of Pentecost reminds us the church’s job isn’t primarily to be a warm fuzzy for our souls….
The Spirit’s work in the church is communal, corporate; it’s public. As Joan Chittister wrote in the item I sent out for our weekly email, “the Spirit is a wild thing”.
It’s the life force of the cosmos, and until we open ourselves, personally and corporately, to that force, we are doomed to be out of step with either whoosh or whisper.
In both Hebrew and Greek one word, ruach in Hebrew, pneuma in Greek, can mean both wind and spirit and even breath….that whoosh of wind and that breathed sigh whispered are the same force
The sound of whoosh touches us, the wind of spirit moves us, the whisper of sigh strengthen us—NOT for our own benefit, but so we might be conduits of the cosmic life force that is God.
At the beginning of worship, we breathe in, so that we may fill up with an awareness of God
We breathe out, so that we can make room for God’s spirit to enter
Now at the end, we breathe in, so that we might be opened up to the call of God on our life
We breathe out, so that we can help others uncover their call, and spread the Spirit, the life force of God, into a troubled world
We breathe in so we can speak out…..so our lives may speak a word from the Cosmos, in a language those we encounter can understand.
Whoosh or whisper, the Spirit comes. Through us or in spite of us, the Spirit works. May we find ourselves open enough, humble enough, to receive this gift…..watching out for the whoosh, and listening for the whisper.