Growing up in Blackpool, I miss many things; the Pleasure Beach and walking home with hot doughnuts, the Trams taking me to and back from school, the Sand at St Anne’s and taking my children for picnics on the beach. And finally … the wind. It really does blow a lot in Blackpool.
Sometimes it was a breeze, sometimes it was a gale. Yet the wind to me is fascinating a movement that sweeps over the sea and beyond. Every time walked on the prom, I felt the wind close around me .. it was almost as though the wind was caressing me, I would close my eyes, take a some deep breaths, and feel energized, revived and renewed. I miss the sea air and that feeling of being wrapped and held by the bracing sea breeze. As a new Christian, I remember thinking, I know God is everywhere, and sometimes I would never feel Gods presence. Yet walking in Blackpool and along its coastline, I felt the caress of God.
It’s the wind you see,…. that for me… is a great illustration of the Holy Spirit, the wind blows everywhere.
Christians throughout the ages have found the idea of the Holy Spirit curiously hard to pin down. The word ‘spirit’, when it applies to God is a metaphor. In Hebrew it translates to ruach, a ‘feminine’ word which means breath or wind; and it is a picture of air in movement. Since moving air is invisible it evokes the anonymous nature of the Spirit.
In a book called ‘Participating in God’, written by Baptist Paul Fiddes, he describes ‘the gentle breath of God moves deep within our being, the Spirit within, and the Spirit beyond us. Both aspects mysterious, for this breath is not under our control, it is inseparable from God’.
This image of how the Spirit affects us, within and us and beyond ….is the God who touches us, intimately. When the Spirit is moving in our life and is creative, a reaction is evoked. The disciples certainly had a reaction when the flames at Pentecost descended on them. I don’t know whether actual flames appeared, but the image of being touched by flames would indeed instigate a reaction of some sort. !!
If God wanted an image to instigate a reaction in someone, well flames are just the right illustration. When I was growing up we had a coal fire, and as a young girl used to stare in the fire and see the flames dance and flicker, jumping about the fire. Imagine if you were touched by a flame, the reaction would be intense, your emotions high, you would feel a physical urge to respond. That is what God’s wants from us, a Physical urge to respond to his call, and the initiator, the encourager in this process is the Holy Spirit.
In Acts2 we hear that the disciples need a kick-start, and the Holy Spirit affected them collectively them and were renewed, the effect of this was the birth of the church. … I think we all need that gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit to kick start us into action, for the Spirit keeps on working, God still keeps on moving us onwards and forwards, it is never static.
The Spirit brings vision; it is how God speaks to us sometimes, with words of wisdom. As Christians we need to channel the visions and dreams into our ministries. It is only then that we will encounter the mysterious God who is ever within us, yet ever beyond us, and alongside us, who is on a costly voyage of bringing love into the world.
We all can lean on the wind, and be carried in the heart of God and be revived, and we can also be carried on the wind, into the future, renewed and energized.
As disciples we need to accept the Spirit,
the one who will stand alongside us with of Jesus
the challenges she may bring us,
the movement she creates ,
the wisdom she instills , and
the opportunities she generates
to be alongside us… in Spirit and in Truth .