Monday, January 12, 2015

The Spirt Flows (sermon given at Sun Valley Pres Jan 11, 2015.

Genesis 1:1-5
1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
1:2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
1:3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
1:4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
1:5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Mark 1
1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,  the Son of God. 
2  As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
        who will prepare your way,
3  the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
 the way of the Lord,
        make his paths straight,’”

1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
1:6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
1:7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.
1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
1:10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.
1:11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Our Old Testament lesson is of course the very first verses of the Bible, indeed the word “Genesis” means “in the beginning”. It's so familiar, and so beautiful!

1:2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

Formless void.....also translated chaos..... God creates order of out of chaos!
“Wind from God' Hebrew word is Ruach...which is translated spirit, wind, breath, this is the Holy Spirit, hovering over the waters...
a bit later in Genesis God will breathe the breath of life into the humans.

Mark's gospel first one written. Matthew and Luke wrote about 10 years or so later, expanding on what was in Mark and writing for specific audiences..Matthew writing to Jewish people, Luke to Gentiles (prob in asia minor) Mark was writing to get these stories DOWN, people had been telling about Jesus and each of the Gospel writers determined to get a good accurate version recorded, now that it was about 30 years after Jesus' time, the original disciples and witnesses to Jesus miracles and teachings were getting old and dying off. And there was serious persecution from Rome after Nero became Emperor.


Mark 1, “The Beginning of the Gospel...” I think Mark deliberately used the word Beginning here! To echo the very beginning of the scriptures. John's gospel of course also echoes the 1st five verses of Genesis.

gospel.  A term meaning “good news.” The Greeks used this word for events such as the birth of an emperor or a major military victory. So when the authors of the NT used it, this was a means of saying, the emperor, the military, this is all temporary, there is REAL good news...the Good News of Our God, the one true God, not the pagan gods.

Mark 1:4 John appeared proclaiming baptism of repentance for sins,..

there was before this a tradition of cleansing, purification at the temple, which was for 'paying customers', wealthy people. John is proclaiming this for everyone! “all the people' from all over Judea -note, John did NOT offer forgiveness....that was the job of God alone, this was purely an act of repentance.

“clothing and locusts....” genuine prophet in the tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament. Jewish people had not had a genuine prophet of God for centuries. John was perceived to be the real deal and they were ready!

in the wilderness.  John’s preaching in the wilderness symbolically reminds Israel of her covenantal origins in the Exodus. The Hebrew people were yes indeed wandering for 40 years, but God never left them through all that time. God was present as a cloud by day—protection from the sun! And a pillar of fire by night— providing light and heat, and protection from wild animals.

so John opened things up for everyone and anyone. And then Jesus came along...

and John tells the people, “I baptize with water but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. -John himself was 'filled with the holy spirit from before birth! He leapt in his mother's womb when she heard the voice of pregnant Mary....

and John (and others?) saw the spirit descending like a dove...and remaining on Jesus.

The Holy Spirit...flows..going where it pleases like wind or like flowing water...(metaphor used sometimes since we can see water flow, we can't really see currents of air! We only see and feel the effect! So flowing water helps us envision the spirit flowing.)

Jesus gave the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit after his resurrection, when they were gathered in the Upper Room and he appeared to them, he breathed on them and said 'receive the Holy Spirit” --for their guidance.

Then the spirit appeared on followers-Christian Converts- 50 days later, on Pentecost...this time as tongues of flame above their heads!

The spirit is symbolized by wind, water, flames....3 of the most powerful forces of nature!

The Spirit serves as our Advocate...Prays for us, intercedes for us, helps get our message to God when we have no words...thank God!
Jesus gave this third person of the Holy Trinity, father son and holy spirit (or holy ghost) to be our advocate, our helper, our companion. And the spirit is there, available and will guide us if we ask. Sometimes I pray
quickly, Lord give me the right words, or tell me to be still...when someone confides to me. And often the stillness is the best help.. or the spirit may guide us to do something for someone,... whether we are to listen and just BE there, or even to pray with a friend, a neighbor, a church member....that is God working through us every day.

Spirit is voice of God, our intercessor, guides us, that little nudge that reminds you havent heard from So and so in a while... and when you call, they say, “Wow I was just thinking about you!”

“this is my son, beloved...”

God is Love. God's Son is Love and of course God's Son is Beloved...

we all are loved by God.
When we act in love, we are sharing God...that is what our faith life is all about!

author Anne Lamott who writes with deep honesty about her recovery from alcoholism and other things, and what she describes as teeny tiny self esteem issues...said,
  “I believe in two things, God and my friends. They are both Love, and they stay close to me no matter how awful I am being.
Both {seem to} have very low standards, which is all I have going for myself.”
-Anne Lamott

We are all God's Children, allow the Spirit of God to envelop you in that love, allow it to permeate your life and help shape you to share and care for others In His Name.

there are lots of references to the Holy Spirit in scripture, here is one of my favorites....
2 Corinthians 13:13
13  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
Communion..also translated as “fellowship”, “Sharing with”
the words for communion and community literally mean together with.

Author Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together:
Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more calmly we will learn to think about our community and pray and hope for it.’ 

There is some parallelism later in Mark's gospel that echoes this passage..the Heavens being torn open, the Spirit and the voice saying This is My Son...

Mark 15:37  And Jesus {On the cross} uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.  38  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

“the communion of the Holy Spirit” the spirit of God is what brings us together-with God and with each other. The Spirit flows, as long as it is not blocked! Acting in UN loving ways blocks it, unforgiveness blocks it...If we are open to the Spirit, it will flow through us, It will help us realize that we all have things in common, with other people, even people very different from ourselves! and helps us to look at those commonalities rather than the differences.

That is real community, that is how we will effect change in our own lives, in our churches, in our city and beyond! That is the REAL peace of God, having God's love in our hearts and lives, and serving, bringing God's Shalom to others-the perfect peace that gives protection, wholeness.

May it be so today and always!  

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