The wind blew one day a few weeks back. It blew in a time and place where I was not, but I quickly became aware of its power and its presence. It blew across open fields on one of the first days the farmers were able to get out on their tractors and turn the soil to ready it for spring planting. It blew across Iowa and the Dakotas, across Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois and as it blew it picked up the soil that had been loosened by the blade of the plow. And then it rained here in the place I call home, and as it rained it showered more dirt than drops of moisture from the sky. And the lines were long at car washes for days to come.
It came to me then and I am reminded now as I settle into the lessons for Pentecost that the wind has no boundaries. It cares not at all about the artificial lines we draw between us. It simply doesn’t matter to the wind if the soil last lived in South Dakota or in Iowa before it found a new home on my silver mini SUV here in Northern Illinois. More than this, the wind does not discriminate in terms of who or what it picks up and carries. If something is in the path of the wind, if the wind is strong enough it will carry it along. Indeed, follow the story of any spring storm and if there is wind, especially tornado strong wind, the news cycles for days to come will hold the telling of precious items being found in fields several counties or even states away.
Knowing this, it seems especially fitting that in the vivid images our lessons hold today, wind is a metaphor for the working of the Spirit. We hear this in the wondrous vision encountered by the prophet Ezekiel where the breath (the wind) reinvigorates all those dry bones, bringing life where there was death, new hope where there was only despair. And we hear of it as the disciples were gathered together in one place and the Holy Spirit made its presence known with the ‘rush of a violent wind.’ In both cases, the ‘wind’ shows no discrimination. All the bones were re-assembled and had life breathed into them once more. Everyone who was gathered ‘heard and understood.’ Indeed, as Peter speaks, he points to the ancient words of the prophet Joel who dreamed of a time when God’s Spirit would be poured out upon all flesh. On everyone within reach.
- You can harness the wind.
- You can work with it or around it.
- You can usually stay ‘out of the wind’ to avoid it.
But you can’t stop it. You cannot stop it.
- And oh, isn’t this a marvelous word of hope and promise for Christ’s Church today?
- Isn’t this exactly what we need to hear in times when it feels as though the world sees us as a bit less relevant than it once did?
- Isn’t this precisely what we need to be reminded of when we find ourselves weighed down by fear, by grief, by wishing things were as they once were but know they will never be again?
For as you cannot stop the wind, surely in the same way you cannot stop a Pentecost Wind when it reflects the movement of the Holy Spirit whose sole purpose is to bring life to places of death, understanding to ears which could not comprehend, and salvation to all who yearn for it (again in the words of the prophet, Joel)!
And so I wonder now:
- Where do you detect the Holy Spirit blowing in and through and among those with whom you live and serve?
- Where is the Holy Spirit ignoring the boundaries we have established between us and among us?
- What (or who) is in the path of this mighty wind which soon will be swept away and/or carried to a new place altogether?
- How is new life being breathed into places or circumstances you thought were long past the hope of living again?
- What does it mean to you that like the wind the Holy Spirit can be harnessed and/or avoided, but it cannot be stopped? What does this certainty mean to you today?