Sunday, 9th June 2019
There’s a lovely simple story about a young ocean fish swimming around everywhere, looking for the ocean. He consults an older, more experienced fish who is very surprised and says, “But this is the ocean, you’re in it, it’s all around you, you couldn’t live without it!” The young fish is very disappointed and says, “No, this is just water, I’m looking for the ocean!” And off he scurries, still looking for the ocean
Just as the fish is in the ocean and needs the ocean to survive, so are we in God. St. Paul says, “In him we live and move and have our being”. We could say, “In him we swim!” But when we try to talk about God or God’s spirit, our words and images are all inadequate and limping. At the same time, some are better than others.
At one time, I imagined God’s spirit inside me, safely locked inside me like Jesus in the tabernacle. The gospel does speak about God coming and making his home with us, and about God’s spirit being poured into us! But that sounds like I have God’s spirit instead of God’s spirit having me! Which is very different! And carrying me off in new and unfamiliar ways! This is a far better image. We are in God and the air all around us is our ocean in which we live and move and have our being.
That’s why the air, the wind, is a great symbol of God’s spirit as well as fire and water and these are all sources of energy and power. But let’s stay with the image of wind today. Everywhere now on our mountains, there are turbines harnessing the power of the wind. And, if I may brag a little, long before there were wind turbines on the mountains; long ago at home, when we were children, we were the first in our area to have electricity. And why? Because my father set up our own wind turbine in the back garden. We called it a ‘wind charger’ and when the wind was strong, we had great light and energy but when the wind was weak, we had to go back to the oil lamps!
With God’s spirit, we never have that problem; the power is constant, always strong. The only problem is how we harness this energy. As believers, we know and believe that power is there for us, but we must want it, plug into it and positively claim it day after day. The sacraments are one way we link into this power. Prayer is another, a prayer of gratitude that we can breathe deeply of God’s Spirit.
So, let’s pray, this Pentecost day, that the Spirit may come and instruct our hearts and remind us of all that Jesus has promised.