Living the Ws

Published 10:36 am Thursday, August 1, 2013

By Marv Repinski,

One of my Lutheran clergy friends, back when I was pastoring North United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, joined scholarship with humor.  Great!  After moving to Mankato, Marbury returned to the Minneapolis church he had formerly pastored, participating in an anniversary celebration.

He shared some of the “eventful” scenes of church life.  I quote, “If Alice Nelson remembers, there was a vibrator chair in the pastor’s office.  She sat on it.  It began to vibrate and out came a mouse.  I don’t think she ever sat on that chair again!”

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Now that I have your attention, under the letter “W,” please reflect on four themes that relate to the WIND.  There is a saying: “Whatever gets your attention, gets you!”

Based on various Biblical verses, consider the words:  Wonder, Wisdom, Wakeful, and Worship. These themes and behaviors all ignite and bring passion to our lives. It means we must see, listen and participate. We are reminded of the continuity and mystery of a possible Divine Plan:  “The wind blows where it wills — cannot tell where it comes and where it goes…” John 3:8.  There are aspects of God’s will that human beings do not control. And what we may think we control may have multiple factors outside of our seeming control.

Think of a windmill. You have seen them; some of you may have benefited by the “energy” they provided, say on your farm, industry or home.  The wind is spoken of in many stories in the Bible. Often, it is personalized or seen as an action of God. Note the Moses event: Exodus 14:21-22, or the story of Pentecost:  Acts 2:1-2.

Lacking the Spirit blowing through these “W” words, the spiritual enlargement, the ministry of a church is limited. We short-change our commitments when the mystery of the Holy Spirit is not acknowledged. May we also be bold enough to suggest that Divine accomplishment is happening outside “the walls” of a church or religious institution?

1. Wonder: To read the Psalms of the Old Testament, is to be captivated by many expressions of the beauty, vitality, creativeness, and surprises of the natural order.  To not only look but to SEE with attentiveness, is to sense God’s handiwork. Not only is God recognized in the wonder of nature in that song, How Great Thou Art, but some of us may be grasped by the wonder of popular music.  I’m thinking of that kind, melodious song by John Lennon of the Beatles, which, even after 30 years since his tragic death in New York City, is sung at weddings.  To me that is a kind of wonder.  The references to God’s glory (Isaiah: Chapter 60) point the way to the really good life!

2. Wisdom: The “smarts” beyond our natural frame, I confess, often come as a gift.  Think, please, of John 15:4.  Jesus invites us:  “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” We have heard the saying, “The goal is to be childlike, not childish!”  Right!  What is at stake may be the theory that part of all of us is “the inner child of your past.”  The positive “part” is the trust and faith that continues long into our adult life. Read again the Song of Solomon. Disregard the fact that Solomon had multiple wives (I still don’t understand that culture!) but that man, when given the opportunity to ask for one thing, got it right. He asked for wisdom.

3. Wakeful: From the “long ago,” I turn to the philosopher Cato.  He nailed it when he wrote, “There is great care about dress, but great carelessness about virtue.” Reflect on that word virtue. It is often spoken of in contrast to vice. Forget for now the many definitions of virtue. Be affirmed in the results of a more stable and bountiful life in a decision to each day take time for what is sometimes called your daily devotions. Matthew 26 places Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was in the agony of prayer; and it was the crucial time of his journey before the day of the cross. The words of our Master to the sleeping disciples, “Could you not watch with me for one hour?”

4. Worship: The book of Hebrews, possibly the last of the oral traditions that was placed in the sacred canon of Holy Scriptures, has some intriguing summaries.  The canon consists of the books of the Bible believed by early Christians to be the most authentic writings of the faith community. The act, action, and participation in worship, which includes the sacraments, music, sermons, instruction, prayer, and sharing fellowship, grants emotional and intellectual qualities. Note Hebrews 1:9, the fact that we can be anointed “with the oil of joy.” You may wish to read the book of Isaiah, Chapter 6.

This reflection is:  WINDMILLS.  Today, we may refer to wind turbines as one of the answers to a more “environment-friendly” source of energy, and as with a windmill, the “product” is dependent upon that which comes as a gift.  For spiritual pilgrims, that WIND is God’s grace and energy.  Our lives matter because in part, there is the example of Jesus! Because of God’s Eternal Providence, based on the Source of the redemption offered to all, in the final completion of world history, the restoration of all life is possible.

Based on Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 and 1 Timothy 2:3-4, we may be affirmed in our long view that as Christians and others too believe, the total creation will be put under Christ’s feet, that “every knee shall bow.” In a sense, WE are the “turbines.” Our Creator, who will make all things good and whole, is the WIND!

Marv Repinski is a retired United Methodist Minister who lives in Austin.