“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
This year, from my vantage point behind the liturgist’s lectern, while I listened to the anthem and the sermon, I watched the balloons swaying back and forth in the gentle breeze from the air conditioning. In my very first column about the balloons, lo these many years ago in May, 1995, I remarked about how they rise because of the helium inside them. But the behavior of the balloons is also affected by other factors.
As I watched the balloons moving, I thought of Jesus’ words to the pharisee Nicodemus: “‘The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” (John 3:8 NRSV). We can’t see the wind. We don’t know, except in very general terms, where it comes from or where it goes. Most of what we know about the wind comes through experiencing its effects: We feel it on our face, hear the leaves rustle in response, or smell some fragrance it might be carrying. The elusive nature of the Holy Spirit is similar to the nature of the wind. We can’t see the Holy Spirit either but we should be able to perceive its effects. In Acts, Luke described the appearing of the Holy Spirit as
Wind moves things; God’s Spirit moves people. In the Old Testament, God
Luke wrote that a man named Simeon was “Guided by the
“Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”’” (John 3:1-8 NRSV.)