Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you? But when the leaves hang trembling, the wind is passing through. Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I. But when the leaves bow down their heads, the Wind is passing by." (Christina Rossetti)

I like to think of Pentecost as the coming of ‘The Holy Gust.’ It is a festival day that has been around for a long time. In fact, we know some dramatic and creative ways Pentecost was celebrated in the Middle Ages. Some churches had "Holy Spirit holes" in their ceiling to symbolize their openness to God. To emphasize that they were open to the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost, doves were released through the holes and bundles of rose petals were dropped from them onto the people gathered inside. Choirboys moved through the congregation making whooshing sounds and playing drums to remind everyone of the rush of the Spirit. Next year’s Pentecost celebration! Holy Spirit holes – I love the image because I pray for our openness to the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday, as I again looked over today’s music – I was struck by the hymn – God is Here – when, in the last line we sing ‘we wait the coming of the Spirit into open minds and hearts.’ Open minds and hearts. Do we have Holy Spirit holes in our minds and hearts? Are we waiting for the Holy Spirit? Yearning for the Holy Spirit to fill our lives…

Lily Tomlin: "The mind is like a parachute; it only works when it is open." We know that all creation has been groaning in labor pains until now. And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. You can hear the yearning in this passage. Not just openness to the Holy Spirit, seeking, calling the Spirit.

There is a powerful story about a Dutch pastor and his family who during the second World War got into big trouble with the Nazis. The Dutch pastor and his family had been hiding Jewish people in their home to keep them safe from Hitler’s forces. The inevitable finally happened. They were eventually found out. And one night in the darkness, they heard the sound of heavy boots and the loud impatient knocking on the door. They were pulled out of their home, arrested and loaded into a cattle car to be taken to one of the notorious death camps. All night long the Dutch pastor and his family rode along in heart-breaking anguish, jostling against one another and against the other prisoners who were jammed into the train cattle car. They were stripped of any form of dignity and absolutely terrified. They knew they were being taken to one of Hitler’s extermination centers. But which one? Would it be Auschwitz, Buchenwald, or Dachau?

Finally, the long night ended and the train stopped. The doors of the cattle car were opened and light streamed into that tragic scene. They were marched out and were lined up beside the railroad tracks, resigned to unspeakable pain, as they knew they would be separated from each other and ultimately killed.

But in the midst of their gloom, they discovered some amazing good news… good news beyond belief. They discovered in the bright morning sunlight that they were not in a death camp at all, not in Germany at all. Rather, they were in Switzerland!

During the night, someone through personal courage and daring had tripped a switch… and sent the train to Switzerland… and to freedom. And those now who came to them were not their captors at all, but rather their liberators. Instead of being marched to death, they were welcomed to new life. In the midst of his joy and relief, the Dutch pastor said, "What do you do with such a gift?"

Something like that happened to the disciples at Pentecost. They were afraid, confused, unsure, overwhelmed… and then came this incredible gift… the gift of the Holy Spirit! It turned their lives around… and empowered by this amazing gift, they went out and turned the world upside down. James W. Moore, Sermon: What Do You Do With Such A Gift?

"Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you. But when the leaves hang trembling, the wind is passing through. Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I. But when the leaves bow down their heads, the Wind is passing by."

The wind. The Holy Gust. Coming to us through our Holy Spirit holes. So invisible. So mysterious. So powerful.


Read other sermons by Pastor Faye