Sunday, June 12, 2011

In wind, fire and water: Come, Holy Spirit!

Come Holy Spirit by Yvonne Bell
Homily for Pentecost Sunday
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Audio for homily


And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were...

I wonder what it’s like to hear those words or preach on them today
in Springfield or Monson or Brimfield
where the tornadoes touched down last week.

And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were. 

Wind and fire and water are images often found in the scriptures
and often as images of how God’s Spirit moves in our lives.

But wind and fire and water are ambiguous images:
each can be life-giving and each can be death-dealing.

• Without water we cannot survive
but floods and tsunamis can take life as easily water sustains it.

• Fire gives us warmth, light and protection, it cooks our food.
But fire can rage, engulf, burn and consume what’s in its path.

• Wind is air on the move, the air we breathe.
But that same wind can twist into a column of destruction and death.

The Holy Spirit comes like a strong driving wind,
not destroying but filling the house
in which the disciples were gathered.

The Spirit comes and settles on their heads in tongues of fire
but they are not burned:
their hearts are inflamed with faith.

And when the Spirit floods their souls with a river of God’s grace
they do not perish, they survive and flourish.

When was the last time the wind of God’s Spirit, the breath of the Spirit,
even a whisper of the Holy Spirit moved your heart, my heart
to respond, to speak, to move, to do, to act
- to sit still and shut up?

When last did you and I feel the heat of God’s presence
burning to move us to choose wisely, to decide prudently,
to act justly?

When was the last time we let ourselves know and experience
the waves of the high tide of God’s grace
pounding on the shores of our hearts?

We find so many ways to insulate ourselves from the Spirit -
as if the Spirit of God were something to be feared.

Am I afraid that the Spirit’s wind might blow me down?

That the Spirit’s flame might singe and burn?

That the Spirit’s tide of power
     might sweep away what I want to keep? 
     might drown the old self I won’t let go?

Well, when we allow the Spirit to break through, to break in,
things do change: we change.

Those early Christians were changed by the Spirit:
     whose wind filled their house, whose wisdom filled their minds;
     whose flame kindled anew God’s love in their souls;
     whose grace quenched their hearts’ thirst for deep faith.

With the Spirit, all this is ours, too.

And perhaps that’s what frightens us.

We want what is life-giving
but we fear what might need to die within us
if the Spirit’s life is to flourish.

We fear what we might become
if the wind, the flame and the water of the Spirit
enveloped our minds and our hearts - and changed them.

What would we become?
We’d become nothing more and nothing less
than the persons God created each of us to be.

So on this Pentecost Sunday, pray with me.
Pray that we not fear the life the Spirit offers us.
Pray for the Spirit to come into our lives -- and to change us...

Come, Holy Spirit,
once more fill my heart
with the fire and power of your gifts.

Come, Holy Spirit,
fill up wisdom's lamp,
come enlighten my mind and my will.

Come, Holy Spirit,
light the way: help me see and embrace
all that God has revealed.

Come, Holy Spirit:
with knowledge of truth,
brand my mind and my heart with God's Word.

Come, Holy Spirit,
my beacon of counsel
for judgments both prudent and pure.

Come, Holy Spirit
and kindle my courage
to do what is right, what is just.

Come, Holy Spirit
and stoke my desire
to humble myself before God.

Come, Holy Spirit,
light the flame of your presence
and draw me to reverence and prayer.

Come, Holy Spirit,
flood my heart with your gifts
and my soul with the breath of your peace.

Come, Holy Spirit,
to the Father's love draw me
through my, Savior, my Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.


 
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