The Spirit Beckons

Luke 24:44-53 & Acts 1:1-11 – Ascension Sunday, the final Sunday of Easter – for May 17, 2015

“He led them out as far as Bethany, where he lifted his hands and blessed them. As he blessed them, he left them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:50-51)

A lake in the southern Yosemite wilderness . . .
A lake in the southern Yosemite wilderness . . .

What are the basics of life?

Shelter. Clothes. Food. Water.

However, each basic need has qualifications: Shelter from warmth or cold, adequate clothes, healthy food, and safe water.

When backpacking, I carry tools for the qualifications. Much of my hiking has been in California’s Sierra Nevada, a few hours drive from my home. Until the last few years of the devastating, worrisome drought, water has been abundant. The winter snowpack typically melts and feeds the alpine lakes and meandering rivers. Once I lived in Wisconsin, where the first snow can fall in October and the final flurry may transform April into a winter wonderland . . . as in, I wonder if spring will ever arrive? I told my shivering cheesehead neighbors we had more snow in California, but it was properly stored in the mountains. In 1982, 67 inches of snow accumulated at Echo Summit, south of Lake Tahoe. All of those inches fell in 24 hours! At the time it was the second highest total for snow in a day in the United States. Continue reading →

In You I Find Happiness

Mark 4:1-11 – Baptism of the Lord, First Sunday after Epiphany – for January 11, 2015

“John was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts . . .” (Mark 1:4)

With a wild heart, a child scampers from puddle to puddle . . .
With a wild heart, a child scampers from puddle to puddle . . .

In the wilderness, clouds bunch on the horizon like gray fists. Within moments a bright day becomes gloomy. Darkness for day, wind rustling trees, temperature plunging, and then . . .

The first rain falls and creation begins again.

Along the wild coast, fog smothers a desolate beach, a moist wall of white. Swirling and still, it blurs the land and sea, the seen and imagined. Flecks of moisture cling to skin, and then . . .

A shard of sun turns drops of water into diamonds.

With a wild heart, a child scampers from puddle to puddle, a parent’s warning to stay dry long forgotten. A splash here; a splash there. There’s a leap from one miniature lake to another. Failure is so much fun as the pants legs are soaked to the knee, and then . . .

There’s a yelp of joy and a dance of delight.

Into the wild yard, you venture, lured by ancient fears and fascination. Though it’s safer to stay where there’s central heat and insulated walls, why not explore the back yard during the worst of the storm? Rain pours, leaves shiver, the garden floods, the lawn transforms into momentary swamp, and you think . . .

Why did I ever think I was in control? Continue reading →

A Spirit That Is Not Safe

Acts 2:1-21 – Pentecost Sunday – for Sunday, June 8, 2014

“And suddenly from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind . . .” (Acts 2:2)

“Mark A Hewitt, Pastel & pen. 26 May 2012”
“Mark A Hewitt, Pastel & pen. 26 May 2012”

On Pentecost, God’s spirit unsettled Jesus’ disciples.

A wind. The fire. Those flames. Many voices. Simple folk that likely couldn’t read or write more than their own name and snippets from the Torah began to speak—with clarity and authority—“foreign” languages.




Since Pentecost—oft called the birth of the Christian community—we of the Christian tribe have institutionalized unsettledness.

On Pentecost Sunday, the preacher strides toward the pulpit. It is, right now, the scariest place in her visible and invisible world.

Before delivering the “good news,” she will read the scripture. The congregation already knows what she’s chosen because it’s listed in the worship bulletin, the web page, the twice-monthly newsletter and currently displayed on the projection screen.

Did she choose the “usual” Pentecost reading, with the “sound of a violent wind” from Acts where all the disciples were “filled with the Holy Spirit?” Continue reading →