Sermon 14 Pentecost June 9: “The untamable Spirit”

Sermon 14 June 9 (Pentecost). “The untamable Spirit” For this Sunday I plan to do something quite different than normal. I have two bible passages: John 3:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 and then will use a story as the sermon to illustrate what I hear the bible saying. The story is one by Hans Christian Andersen called “The Emperor and the Nightingale.” Here is a link if you want to read it ahead of time:

Discussion: What frightens you about John 3:8? Have you experienced what is described there? In 1 Cor 2: 12ff there is a description of something free and freely given, yet which can’t be well expressed in human words. Draw comparisons between these two focus passages and the Nightingale bird in the story. Create as many statements of similarity between the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Nightingale as you can see.

In the message I summarized a couple of things the passages say: the Spirit is free, like the wind, you can see it’s effect, but not the thing itself. I pointed out how some people are too material world focused to understand spiritual things, like Nicodemus and the Woman at the Well. We need help growing into that understanding. The Spirit plumbs the depth of meaning and heart, including God’s and is a connector between followers of Jesus and God. Then I told of how we are just like the people in the fairy tale, and how we want the Spirit to be glamourous and extreme, when the Spirit is actually quiet, humble, and even shy in many circumstances. My experience is that the Spirit’s work is more subtle than we like. Same with the plain brown nightingale. So we re-make an artificial version that does all the things we humanly/this worldly wish the Holy Spirit would do: Look interesting, be predictable, operate on demand and as we dictate, not like the wind. But the Spirit, like the nightingale, is meant to be free, un domesticated, untamed, not technicalized. But living as children of God who are open to the Spirit’s leading has a lot of risk to it, and we know it, and we resist it. So we have things to learn about how to embrace the risk for God’s glory.

I heard of one small group that had discussed this beforehand with significant recognition and benefit and would love to hear from others on this via the comment box below.

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