At the time I'm writing this (mid-January), we've yet to experience any appreciable snow in our region this winter. For some of us, this is an answer to prayer. For others, like my cross-country skiing friends, a matter of prayer.
What we have had plenty of during recent weeks, is wind. We are blessed to live in a home on a small hill overlooking the church where I serve as pastor. Quite a few evenings recently, I've sat in our living room just listening to the wind buffeting our home and blowing through the trees in our yard, leaving broken branches every morning. When I hear the wind blow, I can't help but think of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Hebrew word, ruach, used first to describe the Spirit of God in Genesis 1:2, even can be translated "wind."
There are three words that aptly describe both wind and the Spirit of God. Those three words are presence, power and movement.
Presence reminds us that God always is with us, even when we don't necessarily see or even feel that presence. The wind always is moving, and even when we don't feel it, we often can see it in the slightest movement of leaves or branches. Just as the Spirit of God was present even before creation came to be, we will never in this life find ourselves apart from the presence of God.
Power reminds us that the very God who spoke creation into existence still is at work in our world today. From good (think windmills harnessing and using the power) to the not-so-good (think tornadoes), the wind has amazing power to impact that which is in its path. Always working for good, the Spirit of God has the power to change our circumstances, change our reality, and most importantly, change us.
Finally, movement reminds us that God always is active, always leading and guiding us through life. We read in the gospel account of John 3:8 - "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." The Spirit of God is our guardian and our guide, when we simply yield ourselves to God's leading.
So, until the snow falls, and as the wind blows this winter, I invite us to think of the Holy Spirit - the God who is present, who is powerful, and who moves us. I came across these lyrics in a hymn by Steve Garnaas-Holmes, and like it as a prayer offered to the Spirit, the wind, of God:
Spirit of God, bright Wind, breath that bids life begin,
Blow as you always do; create us anew.
Give us the breath to sing, lifted on soaring wing,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
- Leland is the pastor at Faith United Methodist Church in Montoursville