Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
 (Acts 2:1-21)

"When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force, no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks…"

Wow, what an experience that must have been. Can you imagine being present that day?

The folks on that day experienced something extraordinary, something they've never experienced during the Feast of Pentecost before.

Before his death and resurrection Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, by saying (in John 14:16) "I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of Truth."

(John 16:13) "And when the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth." Jesus tried to tell the disciples that they needed the Holy Spirit to guide and direct them in their daily activities rather than trying to go it alone by themselves.

There's a story about some surveyors who were sent to a remote mountain to design a new map of the terrain. Everyday they would go up and over the rugged hills and every night return to their camp. Usually every night an old shepherd, who enjoyed their companionship sitting around their fire at night, joined them. They would swap stories and tell of their daily adventures up on the mountain.

One night the old shepherd insisted that he accompany the surveyors the next day so they wouldn't get lost. Feeling fairly sure of themselves after so many successful trips, the surveyors asked why he felt he needed to go along.

The shepherd insisted, "I must go with you because I know the mountains like the back of my hand. If I don't go you will get lost." The surveyors were aggravated by his insistence. They said, "We've just made a map of the area. We don't need you to go along. We can do it ourselves." The shepherd said, "But there's no fog on your map."

So the two "experts" went up the mountain early the next morning by themselves. Soon a thick fog encircled them and led them astray. They were lost! They wandered all around the mountain and became exhausted. Suddenly out of the fog, the old shepherd appeared beside them and led them home through the fog. (source unknown)

Can you relate to this story? Aren't there times when we feel so sure of ourselves, so sure we're strong enough to go up and over the rugged hills of life day after day all by ourselves.

Yet, when we sometimes choose to go it alone, the Holy Spirit gently calls to us, "I must go with you. I will show you the way." However, there are times we ignore the Spirit because we've made our own maps to chart out our life's journey. We know where we want to go and how we're going to get there. And this is true whether we're talking about ourselves as individuals, or whether we're talking about the body of Christ as a whole.

So today I want us to consider the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as it relates to God's vision for us. I want us to consider how the Holy Spirit works in our lives to move us from where we are to where God wants us to be.

On that day of Pentecost long ago the folks received from God a fresh wind of wisdom, and a fresh fire of passion for seeking and responding to God's vision. The Holy Spirit didn't come simply to say, "boo, here I am," or, "nice to see you." The Spirit came for a purpose. The Holy Spirit came to serve as a guide for the followers of Jesus Christ, to lead them from where they are to where God wanted the to be. The Holy Spirit came to help them realize God's vision for their life and to then nudge them to respond, as God desires.

The same is true for us today. The Holy Spirit is with us to guide us and to help us realize God's vision for our lives individually, and as a community of faith.

So what is vision and why do we need it, more specifically why does the church need vision?

Well, there are three reasons for having vision, and those reasons are biblical, theological, and practical.

"Where there is no vision the people parish." The bible tells us this in Proverbs 29:18. And this is really a profound statement, and an important piece of wisdom for us to consider. If we can't see something beyond where we are to reach for, we don't tend to be as motivated to respond to God. In general people are seekers and want to strive for a better life, a better church, a better community. They want to experience something more than what they already have.

Without this sense of wanting to move towards something, our life looses purpose and we just kind of exist in a state of same-old-same-old, just living day after day doing the same old thing, the same old way, at the same old time, until our life is eventually over.

The theological reason for having vision finds its foundation in what we believe. As Christians we believe God has been present in the past, God is present now, and God is present in the future. There is this "not yet" that God is preparing for us, which is part of our future, and God is continually drawing us to this "not yet" time. You see we can't simply say we've become all that God wants us to become because we haven't and won't in this life. There is always more to do and more to strive for.

Now some folks and some churches live with the mantra, "Let's stay as good as we already are." But that's not a godly statement, that's a lazy statement. In God's world there's always more to do.

Yes, we certainly give thanks to God and celebrate what we've already done, but at the same time we must ask God for our "not yet." What does God want us to do next, understanding where we are and what we're doing is not our everything, it's not all that God wants us to be. And the practical reason for vision is that without vision congregations die. This statement is true regardless of the organization.

Now, some folks will argue that "oh but the church is different. We're not an organization; we're something beyond an organization."

Well, the truth is, where ever two or more are gathered you have an organization, and just because it's a church doesn't mean the natural laws of people being together goes away. The church doesn't receive a religious exemption on people and how they relate to one another in a church.

Last week I was talking to a pastor who said that she was amazed at just how difficult and nasty some church folk can be sometimes. Well people are people, and we don't stop being people when we walk through the doors of the church. And where there are people relating to one another, whether it's Christ-like or otherwise, there is need for organization, leadership, and a shared vision otherwisw the people parish. There's no purpose, no excitement, no enthusiasm.

So as we consider the Holy Spirit coming upon us to lead us and guide us, to show us God's "not yet" for us, how will we respond?

Having the Spirit is not about rolling in the isles and speaking in tongues. It's about claiming the gift and power God is giving us to move forward in ministry.

The question we ought to be asking as a church body, as specific ministry teams and administrative teams that make up our organization, and as individuals is, "Given where we are now, what is God calling us to do?" "Given where I am now, what is God calling me to do?"

Yes, here at Trinity we're doing a great deal right now, we're busy, the building used, things get broken, we run out of supplies more quickly, the parking is getting tougher, the door gets left unlock more frequently, but you know what, in the midst of these challenges we're bringing people to the feet of Jesus, we're making a difference, and the Kingdom of God is growing in the Emmitsburg area. Isn't this what's important, people are coming to Jesus, people are reaching out and saying, "yes God!"

The Holy Spirit is and has been blowing through this place, and tongues of fire have settled upon all who gather here as folks experience the presence of God. As a result, if we're honest, we're doing things now we didn't think possible four years ago, are we not? And God made it all possible. What an exciting place to be, what an exciting time for us.

What we're now seeing and experiencing are the fruits of taking a faithful step towards realizing God's vision. And you know what God has more wonderment, more excitement for us to experience, and more for us to do as we continue to seek his vision for us.

Remember at the end of the day, it's not about doing great things; it's about doing what God is calling us to do. So on this day and every day yet to come, experience the fresh wind and fresh fire of God's Spirit, seek his vision, and be all that God wants you to be in the name of Jesus Christ.


Read other messages by Pastor Wade