When the Spirit Comes


These notes are intended for distribution to members and friends of the Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church family. While effort is made to give credit for work done by others, the notes may use material for which appropriate credit is not given. Also, the notes may differ from the actual sermon as it was delivered. Remember, sermons are meant to be preached and are therefore prepared with the emphasis on verbal presentation; the written accounts occasionally stray from proper grammar and punctuation.



when the Spirit comes,
she will put dancing shoes
on my two left feet,
lace them up
and lead me out
onto the floor,
where we will enter
the Argentine Tango

when the Spirit comes,
she will wander through
the barren garden of my soul,
as she opens her hands,
butterflies will skitter
from withered hope
to dashed dream,
breathing them back
to life;

when the Spirit comes,
and finds me brooding
by the stagnant pool of tears,
she will dive right in,
drenching me with God’s joy,
then teach me how
to float on my back
(without sinking)
pointing out the flames
flitting about our heads
like fireflies.

come, Spirit,come . . .

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

I love that poem by Thom Shuman…Presbyterian Minister… I imagine the Psalmist and the Biblical writers would have loved it as well… as he captures the creative — life and work of the Holy Spirit…Biblical writers also captured it… by its very name.
The word Spirit comes from the Hebrew and Greek for wind… breeze, breath… It is the invisible energy of God breathing into the world… and in us. It is what makes us alive… it is what makes the world alive, according to the Psalmist:
“When you (God) hide your face they (the creatures) are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground”
Long before Star Wars spoke of the force being with you… the Bible spoke of the force… the Spirit of God being with us… infusing life in us. Ready to breathe life into our souls… ready to teach us to dance… ready to fill us with hope…
Pentecost is the day we celebrate the work of the Spirit… remembering how the Wind/Spirit of God who created all the life that we see…how the Spirit (who Ezekiel saw) brought those dry bones back to life… how the Spirit that created the life of Jesus in Mary and gave birth to the church… that same Spirit is among us now… a force at work in the world… for all who have the eyes to see it.
The Psalmist looked at the world and knew this was the work of the creative force of God… set free in the world…
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all… Yonder is the sea, great and wide… “
Have you ever looked at nature and had that feeling? I have…
A few years ago, Sharon, the kids and I visited Muir Woods in California, north of San Francisco. There is a street named for John Muir here in Cary. Muir woods is home to a beautiful forest of Coastal Redwoods—almost 400 feet high. Some trees are as young as 500 years old and others as old as 1200. It is a beautiful part of God’s creation… near the deep blue ocean… the home of sea lions… You cannot stand in the midst of those trees without being aware of the wonder of God’s world… and of the God who created the world…
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all… Yonder is the sea, great and wide…
The woods were named for John Muir…a Scottish born, American Naturalist, writer, botanist– who had a passion for God’s created world.
I love the story I heard of the time he was visiting a friend who had a cabin, snug in a valley in the Sierra Mountains… One December day a storm moved in from the Pacific—a fierce storm that bent the junipers and pines, and fir trees as if they were so many blades of grass. It was for just such times this cabin had been built: cozy protection from the harsh elements. You can easily imagine Muir and his host safe and secure in his tightly caulked cabin, a fire blazing against the cruel assault of the elements, wrapped in sheepskins, Muir quietly writing about the wilderness in his elegant prose. But we would be wrong.
For Muir, instead of retreating to the coziness of the cabin, pulling the door tight, and throwing another stick of wood on the fire, strode out of the cabin into the storm, climbed a high ridge, picked a giant Douglas fir as the best perch for experiencing the kaleidoscope of color and sound, scent and motion, scrambled his way up to the top, and rode out the storm, lashed by the wind, holding on for dear life, relishing WEATHER, taking it all in—its rich sensuality, its primal energy.[1]
As I read the Scriptures, I think that’s what the writers would have us do… they would invite us to read the stories of the Spirit in order to relish it’s sensuality… its primal energy… its life-giving- creative power… to know that the power that created the world is offered to us as well…After all, as Brian McLaren said, the purpose of the spiritual life is not to make us more religious… it is to make us more alive…
“ Alive to God.
Alive to our spouses, parents, children, neighbors, strangers, and yes, even our enemies.
Alive to the house wren speeding to her nest with another caterpillar to feed her demanding brood.
Alive to the cricket singing outside our back doors.
Alive to the cloud that is sailing over you right now.
Alive to the spin of our planet-real, but completely undetectable to us.
Alive to chemistry and physics and philosophy and economics and even politics.
Alive to open books and folded sheets, a sleeping dog, migrating geese, frying eggs everything.”[2]
That’s the reason God sent the Spirit, you know… to make us more alive to the world God gave us and to each other… So, when the Spirit comes… you will know it… for you will feel more alive and be more alive… alive to God… alive to one another… relishing the life you’ve been given.
So in the next few minutes, I want to invite you to listen… listen– to the stories we are about to read from the Scripture… listen… they stories of the Spirit… the powerful, energetic… life-giving force of God, let loose in the world. Amen.

[1] Story by Eugene Peterson in foreward to Walter Wangerin’s book on Prayer
[2] P182 Finding our Way Again

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