Where Laura and I lived in Southeast Alaska, There is an unwritten rule for preachers. In an area where it wasn’t uncommon to have day in and day out of rain, you didn’t preach on Noah’s flood. Forty days and nights of rain were a real possibility in towns that received upwards of 200 inches of rain a year. Now having lived here for over three years, I realize there ought to be an unwritten rule for preachers in the Grande Ronde Valley. We shouldn’t preach on the wind. Really, the wind seems to just be a part of our lives here. Carol, the church secretary, said that when property is sold in Union County, it ought to come with a ‘wind disclaimer.’ The interstate is commonly closed when a semi-truck is blown over blocking all the lanes of traffic. In the fall, I never rake the leaves from our trees in our yard since they have all blown into the neighbor’s yard. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t do any raking. The other neighbor’s tree leaves have all blown into our yard. I remember one of our first weeks in La Grande sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot, feeling the wind rock the car back and forth. We were afraid to open the car doors, thinking the wind would rip the doors off their hinges. The wind is a real, consistent companion to our lives here.
So if there were residents of Union County on pilgrimage in Jerusalem on Pentecost that day the Holy Spirit came rushing in from heaven with the sound of a violent wind, they might have just kept on walking, having grown so accustomed to the sound. So it made me wonder, how would the Holy Spirit get our attention today? As I sat in my office pondering that question, I could hear the wind blowing outside, but in just a few minutes time, I also heard two helicopters and a plane fly overhead, a large truck rumble by on the street, my cell phone beeped that I had a new text message, my computer did it’s little noise that lets me know that I’ve received another email, the office phone rang, and Mary Helen started practicing on the organ the songs she would be sharing with us today. We are constantly surrounded by sounds and noise, so much so that when they aren’t there, we reach for a switch to turn something on to fill that void.
That made me realize the Holy Spirit just might use the power of silence to get our attention these days. So, we are going to do a Holy Spirit listening prayer. Mary Helen, please don’t reach for the keyboard, and if anyone’s cell phone goes off, you might get a microphone thrown at you. So, close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax and be prepared for some silence. Now, as we do this, I want you to remember the Holy Spirit came upon that group of disciples long ago and really stirred things up. She changed them into what has become known as the church, and their community was never the same. We are part of that same church, the same church that is continually open to the movement of the Spirit in our midst, open to what she is telling us, open to where she is directing us to go, open to be continually formed as the people of God.
Keep your eyes closed and let us pray…Come, Holy Spirit. Come…move through us like the winds of the valley…Speak, Holy Spirit. Speak…Pour yourself out upon all of us here, so that our sons and daughters shall come to know you, our young men and women have visions of your glory, and those who have lived long lives dream dreams of your grace and love and power. We are your church. We ask that you give us a vision of who you would have us be and a vision for your church in this time and place. We ask that you fill our hearts and our minds with your presence as you point us in the direction you would have us go…Come, Holy Spirit. Come. (two minute pause) Come, Holy Spirit. Come. Amen.
Now, the Holy Spirit blows wherever she wills and wants, and she may have said something to you. If it is something you would like to share with us, feel free to write it down on the back of the bulletin insert that has the Apostles’ Creed on it and put it in the collection basket. Or call us or stop in the office or send an email. Friends, God moves and acts and speaks through God’s people, through you, and it is through you the Holy Spirit will make known the will of God in our midst. Amen.