The Spirit Blows Where It Chooses

At the Congregational Meeting held on Sunday, March 16th, time allowed for discussion regarding the conversations that are currently happening between Grace and First Lutheran. I appreciate the honesty and truthfulness as people shared their feelings. It was also announced that Our Savior's Lutheran has expressed interest in joining discussions on ways that our churches could all work together in unity. The Spirit of God is active in and through these three congregations!

And all of this is couched in the Gospel lesson which we heard last Sunday - the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus contrasts life in the flesh and life in the Spirit. He notes that one of the key characteristics of life in the spirit is an element of freedom. We are not bound by the same concerns of those who live according to the flesh because our future and fate are sealed by God's tremendous love. "Do not be astonished," Jesus says to Nicodemus, "that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

I think this declaration that the Spirit -- and those born of the Spirit -- blows where it will gives us tremendous freedom when we think about how best to respond to the challenges and opportunities of this age - of this time in the life of First Lutheran. Part of what is so anxiety provoking about this time is that it feels like there are no road maps.

Except that we are not alone! The Spirit -- which Jesus will later define in the Gospel as his own Spirit -- accompanies and empowers us to face a future that we may feel is uncertain but has been secured by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

 From this perspective, the anxiety that many of us feel - Yikes!  There is no roadmap! -- can be transformed into excitement -- there is no roadmap!  J  Which means that we are free -- we don't have to do things the way they've always been done. We can experiment, risk, and fail (and you can't experiment without failing), we can learn, and grow in ways we'd never imagined. Because the Spirit of Christ will blow us in directions we hadn't imagined.

Here's the thing, we might feel that the challenges in front of us are great, no doubt about it. But so also are the opportunities. Whether we grow or shrink, flourish or struggle, consolidate or merge, leave this building or build anew…we sometimes get preoccupied with the immediacy of the story that is right now - right in front of us - and while that is important, it is only part of the larger story God is telling and bringing to a good end.

We are free. We are aided by God's powerful Spirit who will blow us places we'd never imagined - because God loves this whole world -- including us and our little corner of it - God loves us extravagantly and so has promised that whatever may come, we all have God's promise of redemption in and through Christ Jesus our Lord. We can proclaim this good news with hope, courage, and confidence!  --AO