June 9, 2019

“Winded”

By Rev. Katrina Pekich-Bundy

Acts 2.1-12

John 14.8-17, 25-27

June 9, 2019

The crowd in Acts heard a noise. I’ve been thinking about this noise and act of hearing all week. The wind was more than just a sound – it was an experience. So, before we theologically dissect the scripture, I thought we might experience wind first.

So, I have a variety of wind instruments available – I don’t mean woodwind, I mean “instruments” that sound like the wind:

  • Plastic bags
  • Tissue Paper
  • Bubbles
  • Fan
  • Ribbons
  • Mouth Noises

(Experience the “sound” of the wind)

We don’t just hear wind – we truly feel it. We not only feel the invisible breeze on our skin, sometimes we can actually feel noise – such as a loud bass booming through a car speaker or the vibrating of the floor when the organ is loud. Noise can be more than something we hear in our ears.

On Tuesday night at the Worship Committee meeting we began with a spiritual practice called Lectio Divina. If you’re not familiar with this practice, it is a time of sacred listening to the text. A scripture passage is read four times, and each time a person listens in different ways. A word or phrase is chosen and meditated upon. The word that I heard in this passage was “hear.” I kept wondering how the people who gathered “heard,” and if anyone was unable to hear. Maybe they were a member of the deaf community and could not hear in the same way a person with hearing would “hear.”

The more I meditated on this passage the more I thought about how we hear with our entire being – that the people didn’t just “hear” the wind, they experienced it in all their senses. We notice that the passage includes both “audible and visible” aspects of the wind and flames.[1] You can hear wind, but you can see wind when a tree blows or bubbles fly through the air. You can hear fire and sense the heat on your skin. The Spirit is a sensory experience.

Hearing is not just about whether one can sense in the ear, but also about being heard or understood. To hear someone means to comprehend or interpret their meaning. The people heard the wind, and were heard in their native languages. They were understood. They gathered together in a place with a variety of people and were understood. They spoke in their native languages. We might think of different languages we may or may not know how to speak: English, Spanish, French, Greek, Hebrew, or Hindi. Yet, our “native language” might be a culture or a dialect or even a perspective in which we see the world. Native language might also be found in experience.

Someone who has been homeless can speak to that experience in a way that those of us who have not been homeless will never understand. A person who has suffered discrimination can express that feeling in a way those who have not been in that position will not grasp. Someone who has experienced loss can articulate that loss in a way that someone who has never grieved will not comprehend. In some ways, there is a way that our experiences are so unique – understanding is limited by those who haven’t faced it. In the same way, our experiences are connected – because we are human and have the same emotions. In many ways, Pentecost is this link – this way of connecting us even though we have different experiences, even though we might feel misunderstood, even though we want to isolate ourselves at times. The Spirit draws us out and binds us together.

When the people realized what was happening, they were amazed and astonished – the typical response to God’s work in the world. Just as Jesus had promised, this ruach, or Hebrew word for breath and wind and Spirit, appears. Last week we discussed how Jesus had to leave in order to make room for the Spirit. If Jesus had stayed around we might not have felt the pull to act out the good news in our lives. Why would we lift a finger if we could just zap Jesus in to do the work for us? Where would our motivation be to connect with one another and offer and accept forgiveness, and to fully recognize God’s grace in our lives?

Sometimes we need to make space in our lives for the Spirit. As we imagine the Spirit as a giant, rushing wind, I want you to think about that word – WIND. When someone is tired, we sometimes say that they are winded. Perhaps that is no coincidence. When we are tired, when we are winded, we need to rest and make space for the Wind of the Spirit to revive us. Last week I discussed how the church takes breaks from meetings in July – from committee meetings and session meetings. Yet, this is more than just taking a break from meetings. For some of you I know giving up meetings is like giving up broccoli for Lent – you’re happy to do it! Maybe it isn’t meetings you need to give up. The giving up isn’t about taking away from your calendar just for the sake of it, but to make space for something else. You might not even know what you are making space for until reflection in August. Maybe you are making space for mistakes. Maybe you are making space for emergencies. Maybe you are making space for the unexpected. When we give space not only in our calendars and in our lives, we give space to breathe. We respond better when we are rested and filled with the Spirit. In fact, we respond, rather than react.

Jesus talked about the Spirit often, especially about his death and resurrection and ascension. We hear that conversation taking place in the Gospel of John. We see a glimpse into the deep interconnected nature of Jesus and God and the Spirit. The Trinity is relational. We are relational – to God and to one another. We cannot always explain that relation, but we sense it – we know it exists.

Last week I discussed the PhD work of Laura MacGregor who studied mothers who were caregivers for their children, and how they could sense when something was medically wrong with them, well before physical signs appeared. Afterward, many people asked me if that connection could also be found in fathers and their children, or caregivers and their patients, or children caregiving for their parents. I don’t have the medical or scientific answer to that, but if I were to guess, it would be that many caregivers can do this. As MacGregor said, our bodies are “leaky.” We are interconnected and our bodies, or perhaps even our spirits, communicate in ways we cannot always explain – just like the Spirit. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard stories of people who said, “I just had a feeling I should call so-and-so, and when I did, it meant the world to them.” We cannot always explain that connection – but I believe the Spirit has something to do with it.

Our faith is experiential. We live, we learn, we are reminded. Jesus was always reminding and always teaching. We must always be learning – in our minds, in our hearts, in our bodies. God abides in Christ, and Christ abides in God, and the Trinity abides in us. In this relational concept we must abide with one another. This is truly hard work. I find it much easier to abide with people who think and act and talk like me. Abiding with someone who is vastly different can be very difficult. Yet, that is what we are called to do. Abiding is very difficult in our society today. How long do we abide with someone who not only disagrees with us, but maybe uses harmful language? As a female pastor, how long do I abide with someone who thinks I shouldn’t be ordained? How long can a person of color abide with someone who is racist? Many times I have wondered how long we try to reconcile differences and set an example and educate, and when do we just stop conversations that become harmful and say enough is enough? I think abiding can mean setting the boundaries and taking a step back. As Jesus shows – abiding is not always a physical presence, but perhaps an example.

Let us abide with one another. Let us be open to new experiences of God. May you see God, feel God, smell God, hear God, and taste God in new ways this week. Amen.

 

[1] Fred B. Craddock, John H. Hayes, Carl R. Holladay, Gene M. Tucker, Preaching Through the Christian Year: C (Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1994), 273.