Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Unseen Wind

June 3rd:

Unseen Wind
Call:   Isaiah 6: 1-8
Text:   John 3: 1-17
Read:   Psalm 29        (761)

                                Unseen Wind

Last week amid a sea of red
        And it was a red sea
        Because those who forgot to wear red clothing
                Blushed in embarrassment
                And provided the color missing from their attire.

But anyway,
        Amid a sea of red we celebrated Pentecost

Now Pentecost, as we noted, marks
                The coming of the Holy Spirit
        and     The birth of the church.

But it too has an additional distinction
        One we didn't touch on last week
        For Pentecost also marks the beginning of the second half of the Christian or liturgical year.
                A year developed to provide a framework for worship
                A year that enables churches to celebrate special occasions
                        Despite different denominations and worship leaders
                A year that is useful, but not legislated
[We could celebrate Christmas in July
        And Easter in August
                Although the latter would have trouble jiving with Passover]

The first half of the liturgical year
roughly tells the story of the life of Christ
Beginning with the Advent anticipation of his birth
Then, after that birth

We learn        of his baptism
                Of the calling of his disciples
                Of the first steps in his ministry

The reaction to that ministry moves from skepticism
to both
        enthusiastic responses  - from many people
And     anger           - particularly from the threatened hierarchy

When we recognize that anger
as something more than mere annoyance
We sense we are moving inexorably to his arrest and his crucifixion.

But then we experience the joy and reassurance of Easter
And the post resurrection appearances

Joy and reassurance     that seem to disappear forty days later
        To be replaced by
the confusion, fear, and probably discouragement
        of his leaving this life
        In an ascension at which he charges us to be witnesses
                And to make disciples.

Thus ends the outline of his life
And the first half of the liturgical year.

In those six months we went from
anticipation    to arrival              to two departures

What is left for us?

Well, the second half of that year is launched at Pentecost
When we were empowered to do the job
        And when we came together to become the church
 our instrument for doing the job.

Thus, the first half of the Christian or liturgical year ends
with us having been given a job to do
And the second half begins
        With us being told that we can do that job.

Therefore,      the second half of the year
         Is our on the job training
or if you prefer,
our graduate work.

It is focused on Jesus' teaching and experiences
And focused on teaching them to us.

During the first half of the year we learned and experienced his story.
During the second half of the year
We try to learn and experience what it means
and what it requires of those of us who want to be his followers

Today, having been prepared by Pentecost
We begin that training and that work
And today we begin with a familiar scripture
that offers ideas for dozens of sermons.
        [only one of which do I plan to preach today]

This familiar scripture introduces us to themes and concepts
        Which we will encounter over and over again
        And which we must encounter
                In order to understand Jesus
        And     in order to have, as we noted last week,
                        Our right relationship with God put back together
                        And restored to a living, breathing relationship.

The scripture is the first seventeen verses of the 3rd chapter of John
                                                                        [John 3: 1-17]
What a way to begin this phase of our education!
Look at the concepts offered to us in this scripture.

This scripture talks of the new birth.
        A birth or transformation        from above.

This scripture talks of God's love for the world
        God didn't just send a prophet
        But rather God so badly wants us to feel God's love
        That the one sent       was God's son - God's only son.

This scripture clarifies that God's intervention into the world
        Is one of saving rather than condemning,
        Doing so in words that even those who always accent punishment rather than love
                Should be able to understand.

This scripture is one that reflects the concept of trinity
        We hear of the parent, of the son, and of the spirit
        All parts of one God - not each a god unto itself
                [Can you imagine what God as a committee would be like?]

This scripture also introduces us       to and as       Nicodmus
        Giving us a perspective that we need if this on the job training or graduate work is going to nurture and inform us.

For Nicodemus' perspective is
        A perspective of one who has questions and wants to learn;
        A perspective though, which reminds us that we need to change our ways of thinking;
        A perspective which demonstrates that despite good intentions and some understanding, we don't always get it right
                For we are humans who need to keep listening and keep trying to understand.
                Not creatures who easily think like God

And that perspective is brought home
        Not only by Nic's words and questions
But also by his appearing at night,  in the darkness            Seeking light
As this scripture ends, it seems that Nic is still in the dark
        Responding with human ideas and human ways of thinking
Like you and I do
But he must finally have seen the light for we meet Nic one more time
        Helping Joseph of Arimathea provide a proper burial in the garden

There is another concept tucked - almost hidden - in this scripture

This is the reference to the unseen wind
        "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."

We don't see the wind.  Instead we see what it does.
        This wind is the Holy Spirit
        And I believe that this wind is also our faith

                We don't see either of them
But we do see what both of them do
                We don't know or see where they begin
                We don't know or see where they are going

But you and I, Nicodemus' modern counterparts
need to ride them
trusting parent, son, and Holy Spirit
trusting the wind we know,      but which we cannot see
so that we, like the original Nic, will
        Come out of the darkness and into the light.

Our first class is over.                We are dismissed, but we are not done.
Now we can go to dinner.