May 2013:Making waves at Pentecost

Our church building is just a few minutes' walk from the beach. Being almost landlocked, Port Philip Bay is quite shallow and usually calm, but when the wind gets up it quickly gets choppy. The wind makes waves.

Wind, spirit - these are separate words in English, but they are the same word in the Biblical languages. The Holy Spirit could just as easily be translated as the "Divine Breath". Every word we speak involves breath, and so it is for God, in some mysterious way. We can bring about change using our voices, and so does God - the Spirit's role today is to speak about and witness to something greater,to make waves in human society that keep us from becoming complacent.

Sometimes the Spirit's work takes the form of physical miracles or special insights that bring sudden change. These things should not be taken for granted, because they carry with them great danger of pride. They are given for the glory of God, when the situation suits.

Much more often, the Spirit of God acts through ordinary people - especially those who will sit and listen for His voice. If we are willing to do this, we will need courage - because the Spirit first shows us things about ourselves that need changing, and we resist change most strongly when it affects us directly. But this is the role of a living religion - not to make people conform to old-fashioned rules, but rather to open up new possibilities, helping people cast off the shackles of human convention that hold us back.

Listening to the Spirit of God opens up new possibilities in our lives, bringing new hope. It also leads us to see others in a new way, a loving, compassionate way. Jesus showed us how to do this; all we have to do is copy him, in spite of our prejudice. Hope and compassion lead to doing things together, or community - not the false community of people who happen to live near each other, but the true community of people who are committed to each other's well-being - a community of hope and compassion. This is what Churches of Christ are called to form, as we put love for God and each other into action - but it applies to all who believe.

This isn't a new idea. The early church was well known for doing the same, in spite of persecution. The early church made waves in its time, by listening to the wind of the Spirit, and forming or joining communities of followers of Jesus; so should we. But such communities should not be self-serving - so where is the Spirit leading us today? Let us listen, and make waves; let us look forward with hope, and make compassion a reality in our lives, as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Parkdale Church of Christ 2012-18 —A community of faith, hope and compassion.