In the beginning before God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a soup of nothingness a bottomless emptiness. an inky blackness. Then the RUACH of God, the Spirit/wind/breath of God blew across the face of the waters fluttering her wings, creating a disturbance. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. [Gen 1:1-4, paraphrased, portions from The Message]
Many years later, this same Spirit/wind/breath of God fluttered her wings once again, creating a disturbance. Suddenly there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where the disciples were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. [NLT]
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. Their tongues were unloosed, and they began to preach the good news of Jesus in creative and inventive ways, speaking in languages they did not know. The Spirit/wind/breath of God gave them this ability. As the Holy Spirit continued to blow in that place, it moved Peter to exclaim, “In the last days I will pour out the Spirit/wind/breath of God on all people. Your sons and daughters shall catch a glimpse of God’s future plans. Your young men and women shall see visions. Your old men and women shall dream dreams” [Acts 2:2-4,17, paraphrased]
Today is Pentecost Sunday and, guess what? The RUACH of God that stirred up the waters of Creation, the Spirit/wind/breath that filled those first disciples with visions and dreams and languages,is blowing among us today. Can you see it? Can you feel it? This Spirit does not always reveal herself to us as the still, small voice of God. Both Genesis 1 and Acts 2 testify that God’s Spirit is a creative spirit who shakes things up a bit, who creates a disturbance every once in a while. She is a Spirit who moves in us and around us in surprising and unpredictable ways.
She is a Spirit who causes us to sing…”Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.” Does that sound like a still, small voice to you? Hardly! A Spirit that breaks us, melts us, mold us and fills us is a Spirit of great power!
She is the Spirit who stirred up the waters of creation and stuff started to happen. She is the Spirit who rested on each of the disciples on the day of Pentecost, and stuff started to happen. She is a Spirit of creativity and rebirth who creates a space is us for the dreams and visions of God to move and direct our lives. If we allow this Spirit/wind/breath of God to blow freely in our lives stuff WILL start to happen.
Lutherans, by and large, are a bit shy when it comes to talking about the way the Holy Spirit moves in our lives. We like the Holy Spirit to be nice and neat; to move within the confines of water and Word, bread and wine, prayer and praise. We expect the Spirit to show herself by means of an officially approved list of activities such as Galatians 5:22-23: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.
That’s the Spirit we want in our lives. Save all the wild stuff for the Charismatics and Pentecostals! We want the Holy Spirit to be a gentle breeze who blows safely and securely through our lives, nothing too exciting! After all, we’re Lutherans and we can’t have the Spirit/wind/breath of God moving through this place and stirring things up, don’tcha know! It just wouldn’t be proper!
A few weeks ago I participated in “Create In Me” which is a faith and arts retreat at Camp Lutheridge. I’ve been to this retreat for 16 or the 18 years of its existence. Several members of our church have been there multiple times as well. I love this retreat because the people who attend are the kind of people who are not afraid to let the Spirit/wind/breath of God create a disturbance in their lives. It is a place of tremendous encouragement where participants are invited to play, to experiment, to fail, and to try again.
In fact, Pastor Mary Caniff-Kuhn begins each retreat reminding us that the process is far more important than the product. Being creative trumps what we create. Trust me, I’ve had a few disasters along the way. But then, every once in a while, you come across an art form that awakens a gift you didn’t even know you possessed. For me, that gift was paper collage. We started off with altered playing cards which a number of you learned how to make in a workshop I led this winter. I promise we’re going to do it again. I was immediately hooked and stayed at that craft table for the entire weekend. I continued to create cards for a while at home and then, the Spirit of creativity whispered in my ear, and told me, “Let’s do something bigger.” The result was the icon you saw this Advent of a pregnant Mary that was made from Christmas newspaper ads. I had such a great time creating it that I wanted to do it again. The result is the Pentecost collage that’s hanging on the wall in front of you this morning.
The reason why I share this is that I suspect many of us have talents we do not know we possess. Some of these talents were squashed when we were kids. Others are the kind of talent that blossom with age and experience. Whatever the case may be, it’s easy to let the Spirit of creativity be reduced to a smoldering ember in our lives. It’s a lot harder to let the Spirit/wind/breath of God blow like a wildfire out of control. It’s hard to let our light shine when everyone around us is trying to rain on our parade. You know what I mean?
So, let’s take a quick “spirit inventory” of our lives and see how we’re doing. Are we one of those people of faith who prefers the Spirit to be neat, clean and predictable? Or do we let the Holy Spirit stir up the waters of creation in our lives and give birth to something new? Do we prefer to hear a still, small voice of the Spirit or do we welcome the rush of a violent wind from time to time?
Friends in Christ, our God is a creative God. God’s Spirit is a creative Spirit. I’m not sure why we always want to box God in and limit the ways in which the Spirit moves in our lives, but we do. The Spirit of creativity that blew so freely though our lives when we were children sometimes gets lost along the way. It loses steam and is reduced to a whisper when we become adults. We think this is progress. It’s a part of what it means to grow up. But I would like to argue this morning that God intends us to be creative people in every season of our lives. The same Spirit that stirred up the waters of creation and set the disciples on fire is available to us now if we will only let that Spirit/wind/breath of God blow freely through our lives.
Now I’m sure some of you are probably thinking “I’m not a creative person.” But I believe that everyone is creative in their own way. It’s just that we’re sometimes afraid to let God’s Spirit of creativity shine through us.
For example, have you ever had a brilliant idea pop into your head but you didn’t share that idea because you’re worried about what other people might think? Have you ever had a secret desire to try something such as write a book or take a pottery class but you’ve never done it because you thought it was too impractical or you rationalize that you didn’t have the time to do it?
DO NOT listen to the voices who try to squash God’s creativity in you. Let the Spirit/wind/breath of God blow mightily in your life and see what wonderful and imaginative things God’s Spirit can birth to in you. Young men and young women can still see visions. Old men and old women can still dream dreams. Pentecost is not meant to be a one time event. It can occur again and again and again in our lives as the Spirit moves us in unpredictable and unexpected ways.
Be creative as God is creative. Plant your garden as if it is Eden itself. Serve your family a meal that looks like it came from a restaurant. Get in touch with your artistic side. Try a new craft you’ve never done before. Enjoy the process of creating without becoming too preoccupied with the final product.
Read an author who tickles your imagination and expands your view of who God is and how God works in our world. Pursue the dream that has been tugging at your heartstrings for years but you’ve never done anything about it. Listen to that still, small voice of the Spirit that has been nudging you to go in a direction you have resisted for far too long.
Be a Spirit-filled Lutheran! Allow God to break you out of the box and take you on a new and exciting adventure in the Spirit. Don’t put this off until tomorrow. Do it today!!! The Spirit is rising and I hope we can feel it. Let’s have the courage to allow the Spirit/wind/breath of God to blow mightily in our lives and ignite a spark of creativity in all of us. I know we can do this! Amen.
Copyright ©2016 by David Eck