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Pentecost Sunday - The Wind Moves Stuff. The Spirit Moves the Church.”

Grace to you and peace in the Spirit of Life, who calls us through the gospel, and who moves us in faith. Amen.


Many of you know that I often cycle to work. When I cycle to Abundant Life, I take the Pioneer-Gateway trail that runs between Gateway and Raleigh. The trail runs straight north and south, and it’s not uncommon while I’m riding to have a strong wind in either direction, sometimes gusting up to seventy kilometers per hour. Now when you’re cycling against that kind of wind, it’s a grind. You’re down in low gear, pedaling hard just to keep moving forward. But when you’re riding with the wind, it’s like you’re flying. It’s amazing.


Today is Pentecost Sunday – the day we celebrate how the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles after Jesus’ resurrection. And what a perfect day to be worshiping together as a Shared Ministry, isn’t it? Apart, we are Prince of Peace and Abundant Life. But together we are Spirit of Life Ministry, and that name is intimately connected to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. And our symbol – the dove – is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, isn’t it?


Today is also our final Sunday in our series on Paul’s letter to the Romans. And today we arrive at Romans Chapter 8, which is beautifully fitting for Pentecost, because it’s all about the Spirit, and how the Spirit guides us in our lives as Christians.


Now the word for the “Spirit” in Hebrew is ruach. (Let’s say that together. Ruach). And the word for Spirit in Greek is pneuma (nooma). Both of these words have similar meanings. They mean spirit, but they also mean wind, and breath. And so whenever we hear about the Spirit in scripture, there’s always this connection to wind and breath – God’s wind, and God’s breath.


Now I love this idea of wind as a metaphor for the Spirit. Because you can’t see the wind, can you? But you can certainly feel the wind, right? And you can definitely see how the wind moves things around, like tree branches and leaves and clouds and kites. And when you’re riding a bike, you can definitely feel if the wind is blowing against you, or with you.


And in the same way, we can’t see the Spirit, can we? But can we see how the Spirit is moving? Can we even feel the Spirit moving sometimes?


In 2002, a man named Steve Fossett flew around the world in a helium balloon called the Spirit of Freedom. That could be another name for the Holy Spirit, couldn’t it? The Spirit of Freedom? Anyway, he launched from the town of Northam in Western Australia, and it only took him 13 days to sail all around the world and return to Australia. The most amazing thing is that there was no motor or propeller on the Spirit of Freedom. It was powered by the wind. That’s it. Isn’t that incredible? That the currents of air that flow around the globe are so powerful that they could move Steve Fossett and the Spirit of Freedom from Australia, all the way across the Pacific Ocean, over South America, across the southern tip of Africa, across the Indian Ocean, and right back to Australia, all in just 13 days?

The wind moves stuff.


And the Spirit moves the church.


As I was reflecting on our readings today, I was struck by all the action words that are associated with the Holy Spirit. In Acts, the Holy Spirit rushes into the room, like a violent wind. The Spirit fills the apostles, and she sends them out into the street. And when Peter is preaching to the crowd, he talks about the Spirit being poured out upon all creatures. And in Romans, Paul uses all sorts of action words with the Spirit. The Spirit leads us, and bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. The Spirit helps us and intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.

The Spirit doesn’t stand still. She is always moving, always active, always up to something.


Luther uses a lot of action words when he writes about the Spirit in the Small Catechism. He’s talking about the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed, the one that starts with “I believe in the Holy Spirit…” And he says this article means, “I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him. But instead, the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with her gifts, made me holy, and kept me in the true faith, just as she calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith.”


The wind move stuff.


The Spirit moves the church.


How has the Spirit been moving in our lives?


Let me take you back to the late 1950s, just a few blocks from here. The Spirit was moving, and the Spirit moved a group of Lutherans to begin worshiping together in Windsor Park. The Spirit gave that community of faith a name – Prince of Peace. Again in the late 90s, the Spirit was moving, and the Spirit moved a group of Lutherans to plant a church in East St. Paul. And the Spirit gave that community of faith a name as well – Abundant Life. And all throughout the years, the Spirit has been moving in our two communities of faith, calling us through the gospel, enlightening us with gifts, making us holy, gathering us to worship and pray and learn and serve together, and keeping us in faith.


In 2016 the Spirit began moving our two congregations to explore the possibility of sharing ministry together. In 2017, the Spirit moved Pastor Annemarie to become our first Shared Ministry pastor, and in 2021 the Spirit moved us to become Spirit of Life Ministry.


And today, the Spirit continues to move. The Spirit continues to call us, enlighten us, make us holy, and keep us in faith.


The wind moves stuff.


The Spirit moves the church.


The Spirit has been moving in Spirit of Life Ministry.


How is the Spirit moving us now?


Is the Spirit moving us to grow deeper in a relationship as a shared ministry?


Is the Spirit moving us to explore collaborations with other communities of faith?


Is the Spirit moving us to reach out and help our neighbours?


Is the Spirit moving us to work for justice and peace in our world?


Is the Spirit moving us to share the story of Jesus and the message of God’s love with those around us?


The wind moves stuff.


The Spirit moves the church.


How is the Spirit moving us today?


Amen.


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