Continue The Sunday Sermon: Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 4, 2016
ligar mujeres cambados What the Spirit did on My Summer Vacation
Our first reading from the first verses of the first book in our Holy Scripture: Read Genesis 1:1-2 … In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
It’s Labor Day weekend … again. How is this possible? (“So little reconciled to time are we, it is as if fish were constantly surprised by the wetness of water.” C.S. Lewis). Anyway, it’s Labor Day weekend again, we’ve gathered in this room looking ahead to all that is ahead for us – Rally Day Sunday, which is also Reunion Sunday this year, new Sunday School classes, Youth Group gatherings, and fellowship opportunities. So much to prepare for in the week ahead.
But on this weekend we also always (or I also always) look back over the summer past. In a prayer last week I said something like “even as we begin a new church year with excitement, we look back wistful for summer relaxation.” I don’t know how “relaxed” your summers are, some more than others, I’m sure. Our family’s summer fills up quick and isn’t as full of the lazy days we think we remember from further back, but still there’s a different rhythm to the summer months and “wistful” is a good enough way to describe how we feel as we remember what’s been for the past three months.
So, this morning, I want you to be little bit wistful. I want you to think back over those past months, too. I want us all to slow down a bit more in this time together, in this hour we have allowed to be together – to sing, to pray, to share our common meal. On the last weekend of the summer 2016 I want you to remember what you did since last June. Not so much what you may have accomplished or gotten done or finished up, but what happened in your lives in June … and in July … and in August.
What trips did you take? What did you do if you stayed home all summer? What projects were a part of your summer? Who did you see? Who did you visit? Why did you visit them? Was it a pleasant trip you were planning for the last year? Was it a trip taken to see someone who was sick, or aging, or both? How was the visit? Who came to see you and your family? Why did they come?
Where did you swim or boat, go fishing or tubing? Where did you do most of your reading? What was your favorite summer book?
What made you anxious this summer? What were you not looking forward to and why not? How did you feel, how do you feel now that it’s past? When did your feel like your summer “ended” (assuming you feel that it has!)? Why did you feel that it had? Marching Band? Sports practices? The end of a family trip? Labor Day weekend?
Now, as many as they are, these questions just scratch the surface of all the life that all your lives have lived over the past three months. And as varied as our answers to these questions and more are, as different as our personal or familial experiences may be from one another’s, there was and is one thing that each one of shared together. That one thing was, and is, the presence of the Spirit: The Holy Spirit, the Holy “Ghost,” our Advocate, Rauch and Pnuema, the Wind and the Breath of God.
In the third chapter, eighth verse of the Gospel of John, in the middle of a very familiar exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus reminds us that … this wind, this Spirit, blow where it chooses. We hear the sound of it 9expreince the presence of it), but do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (Jn 3:8), Jesus tells us. We are all born of the Spirit. Make that as literal or metaphorical as you want; as mysterious or as obvious as you like; as complicated or as simple as you can, but remember this: That we are all Spirit people, born of, sustained by and living with the breath of God.
So, now – as you think again about all that has been a part of you summer past, I want you to write an essay. In the classic image of the first day back at school at almost any age, I want you to “write an essay” in your mind about What the Spirit Did on Your Summer Vacation. How did you experience the Holy this summer? When did the Sacred show up for you?
On a family trip? In the quiet of your own home? In a sunset or a sunrise? Through a passage in a novel? In the laughter of old friends? (Or new ones?) In the passing of a life that gave meaning to your own? In a place you’ve never been before at a sight you’ve never seen? Or in someplace you’ve been and something you’ve looked at all your life that you somehow saw differently?
How did you experience the Holy this summer? When did the Sacred show up for you? As you think back, as you bring to mind one of the more memorable moments of you your past summer, how was the Spirit of God at work? Maybe you knew it right then and there or maybe you’re just recognizing how in these moments. I have the benefit of being a bit more prepared because I knew what I was going to do before you, so I want to share a personal experience, an example of what I’m talking about that may help you identify and later articulate your own experiences.
I’m going to step out the pulpit, which I know makes some of you nervous, but it also makes all this a bit more “informal” and hopefully, then, a little more accessible to you. So …
This summer Sam was fortunate enough to participate in the Governor’s School for the Arts program, a three-week conservatory experience on the campus of Centre College in Danville, KY. We took him on Father’s Day Sunday, June 19th and picked him up on Katie’s birthday, July 9th. We got a little (very little, I know, for all of you who have experienced this more fully with your own young adults!). we got a little taste of what our “home” would be like without one of our “chicks.” I may tear up a bit in my remembering right now, but what I share with you is this: We were as close to him in our physical separation as we have ever been. We thought of him daily, wondering what he was doing and who he was meeting. We missed him, of course (Annie probably missed him the most), we experienced his absence, but he was powerfully present with us – in some ways in even deeper ways. Maybe that was because we weren’t worried about his driving around town, or getting in late or getting to work on time. I don’t know, but in his absence he was powerfully present with us, pointing us to something beyond us. That’s Spirit stuff …
Spirituality has been defined as “the way we live our life given the mystery at the center of the universe. Because we “believe” in the Spirit-God, the mystery that moves over the chaos of our lives ceaselessly, we live our lives in the direction of Love – at least we do when we live most fully.
No one knows where or when the Spirit may move. But that it is moving is for sure. We must remain open to what the Spirit is doing in our lives. For in that understanding we will understand better where we have been and where, if our souls are to be saved, we are to go.
Let’s pray together … Gracious God, you give and you give and you give and you give. Open our minds, open our hearts, open our lives to receive the gift of your Spirit in every moment that we may become the wind that blows through this world and changes everything.
Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / September 4, 2016