The wind of the Holy Spirit. Sermon 10 Sep 2017 by Sarah Barber
Please join me in prayer…. God be in my words and open our ears and our hearts to hear what you would have us hear. Amen
This month we are looking at the elements, earth, wind, fire, and water, and so this week I am preaching on wind. I’m also going to be looking at the Holy Spirit.
For those of you saw me being interviewed here earlier this year you may remember that I haven’t really thought about much about God in terms of God the Creator, God as Jesus and God as the Holy Spirit – known by some as the trinity of God. To me, I had just thought God. The trinity of God was just a bit confusing and so I hadn’t bothered looking at it too much. Since then I have spent some time thinking more in terms of the trinity I am coming to realise how wrong I was. The trinity of God is not a bit confusing….. it’s a LOT confusing.
The reading we had this evening talks about the first time the Holy Spirit came to the followers of Jesus. It talks about a sound like the wind coming and tongues of fire touching them and they were then able to go outside and talk in languages that they had not known before. People from all over the world were able to understand them. They spoke and preached and taught in languages which were new to them. This was a gift to them from the Holy Spirit. A gift from God.
And it was a promised gift. In John 14:16-17 Jesus says to his disciples “God will give you another Helper” and in the Amplified Bible it adds here “a Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener and Standby, to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see this Spirit or know the Spirit, but you know the Spirit because the Holy Spirit remains with you continually and will be in you.”
Jesus told the disciples that God would send the Holy Spirit to be with them and not only that but to be in them.
And before Jesus’s promise to his disciples John the Baptist said in Mathew 3:11 – I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
If we go back to that reading again, it says a sound like the wind coming and tongues of fire touching them….. Now I’m going to gloss over the tongues of fire as fire is next week with Micheal. But there was a sound like the wind as the Holy Spirit came to them.
I would think most of you have at some time have probably heard of Job. Job is the oldest book in the Bible and it is a difficult read. Job is a good God-fearing and God-loving man. He is loved by God and has been very blessed by God…… that is right up to the point where the Book of Job begins. Job goes from being a very rich happy man to having everything taken from him. Within the first chapter, Job loses almost everything he had. 1,000 oxen, 500 female donkeys, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, a great many servants, 7 sons and 3 daughters. In the next chapter, he is struck down with painful boils and sores all over his body. He has some really good friends who come and be with him in this time and to make a very long story very short they all argue over why this has happened Job saying he had done nothing to deserve it and his friends stating that he must have seriously annoyed God over something. And once they have all stopped talking God comes to them and speaks out of a whirlwind. God speaks out of the wind……
I’m sure everyone here has heard the story of Noah’s ark and how it rained for 40 days and 40 nights which caused a flood to cover the whole world. It says in Genesis 8:1 God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. It was a wind which God sent to help the waters recede.
Wind is something which is rarely seen. However in a week where winds with the names Harvey, Irma and Jose have taken up so much time on our news channels the effects of winds have been there for all to see. It is sometimes difficult to see and remember the good that wind does to and for us and our planet. But if it wasn’t for wind none of us would be here. Plants would never have grown because seeds would only ever have fallen at the feet of the plant which bore them and the nutrients in the soil would have been overused and run out killing those plants. The wind took those seeds though and flew them around so that where they landed they would have good soil. This green and pleasant land in which we live would not have ever been green or pleasant if it had not been for the wind.
It’s estimated that Hurricane Harvey has done up to $180 billion worth of damage in and around Texas. It’s still way too early to know how much damage Hurricane Irma has done and with Hurricane Jose following in her wake it will probably be difficult to assess which hurricane did what. and that is just the financial cost. The human one cost is worse with many dead.
Wind can obviously leave a trail of destruction however out of the bad there is also good. Many of you know that Wendy writes to a prisoner on death row in Texas. His execution date was the 7th of September….. that was 3 days ago. However, following Hurricane Harvey the prosecution asked for a stay on his date as his lawyers work out of Houston and had been affected by the hurricane. The court granted the petition and now his lawyers have more time to put forward the new D.N.A. evidence which was not available at the time of his trial.
There are many times in the Bible that wind is talked about: In the book of Exodus Moses was asking Pharaoh to let Gods people go and when Pharaoh said no God brought plagues on him and his people. In
Exodus 10:13 – So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts;
But then in
Exodus 10:19 – And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt.
In the book of Numbers God’s people are now out of Egypt and fed up with manna and wanting meat to eat so God’s response in
Numbers 11:31 is: – Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul tells the people he is writing to, and therefore us: No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; God will never let you be pushed past your limit; God will always be there to help you come through it.
So God will always help us through the hard times. The tests and trials which we face in life. It’s Gods Holy Spirit which we have already heard is constantly with us and in us which can help us. That is what it wants to do. The Holy Spirit which lives in us is there to give us the strength we need when we need it. It’s the Holy Spirit living inside us which gives us the patience we need when someone is rude to us. It’s the Holy Spirit breaking out of us when we are singing a worship song and get completely and utterly lost in it. It’s is us which do all of these things….. AND it’s the Holy Spirit enabling us to do them.
I was driving along the coast road the other day, coming into Brighton and as I drove I saw a hawk. I think it was a kestrel but I was driving so I’m not completely sure. It’s not an unusual sight driving along there but it was one I hadn’t seen in a while. Its body was almost stationary. Its head, however, was completely stationary. It was completely focused on its prey. Now I don’t know whether it was hunting a really cute little bunny or a scruffy little rat. I also don’t know if it caught whatever it was after – I always want to stop the car and watch whenever I see this kind of thing but I don’t think the other drivers around me would appreciate it much if I did. What I do know though is that it got me to thinking.
That hawk couldn’t hunt without the wind. If it tried to stay above its prey without wind it would have to flap its wing, move around, go back and forth. Instead it just sits on the wind. Making slight adjustments with its wings but very little movement which might be seen below on the ground. The only thing that would give a hawk away when it is hunting like this is its shadow. The wind lifts the hawk. It supports the hawk. It holds the hawk.
When I am going through a crisis the Holy Spirit is there for me like the wind. Without the Holy Spirit lifting me, supporting me, holding me. As the hawk is focusing on the bunny (or rat), it uses the wind to keep it still. As we focus on a problem we can let the Holy Spirit keep us still, calm, focused, patient…. whatever it is we need from the Spirit at that time.
And as we next feel the wind in our hair and on our skin or even just hear it outside the window we should try and remember that as the wind is always with us John 14:17 tells us that the Holy Spirit is always with us and in us too.