Sermon 22 May 2016

Sermon for Sunday 15 May 2016, Westbourne Church

Trinity Sunday 2016        Prov 8:1-4, 22-31    Rom 5:1-4    John 16:12-15

"Hushabye baby
On the tree top
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall
Down will come cradle, baby and all."

One of those comforting little nursery rhymes which adult eyes try to find sense in and find only a forbidden violence. Fancy telling a child a story like that where the baby gets hurt in an avoidable accident. Who would put a baby, asleep, on a tree top anyway? It would be dangerous getting up there for one thing.

The rhyme is thought to have originated in America. It was the practice of some Native Americans to place a baby in the branches of a tree allowing the wind to gently rock the child to sleep "Hush a bye baby on the treetop". And the words seem to suggest that. The words to the "Hush a bye baby" song have the intention of making a child sleep so it is a nursery rhyme and a lullaby. The words to the "Hush a bye baby" song were first published in 1765.

Wind is a strong image for the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, expressed as a strong force or a gentle breathing. At the moment of creation the Holy Spirit covers the waters of the sea, waiting to bring life. It is seen as the breath of God breathing in life. Jesus breathed on his disciples. Elijah found God in the wind. 

In the New Testament the gathering for the festival at Pentecost experiences the rush of a great wind blowing through them and, and into them a new beginning.  We speak of the wind of change, a breath of fresh air. The baby in the cradle is encouraged to expel as much wind as possible. I usually comment to babies that they may as well enjoy it now as they will be chided for it later. When Martin Luther wanted to criticise the Church of Rome he hoped that the sound of his breaking wind would be heard there!

Looking outside we can see what the world wind does but we can’t see the wind itself.  It can have devastating power. In wind is movement, a breath of life, a touching force intimately encircling us. The wind is not careful or respectful, everyone is treated just the same way.

The Spirit/Wind blows around the God of our belief, holding together in its swirls the creator God and the one sent by God as Son and it is in this swirl we are caught up.

Jesus speaks about the Spirit bringing truth, or perhaps, blowing away untruth. Untruth not just deliberate lies but that which obscures or distorts. Pontius Pilate knew about it. When Jesus is before him he asks that simple questsion, ‘What is truth?’ Earlier on Jesus states that truth shall set us free.

The wind blowing round God blows up an obscuring dust but touches all of God and touches all of the Son of God as it blows out to touch us. In that great dynamic we are caught up and in its movement we feel the life of God blowing into all the nooks and crannies of our lives and the life of the world. That wind of God gets in through the most carefully constructed wind-breaks to weather-beat every part of us.

The wind of God drops a baby on us. The picture is completed of a creating God, an energy, and a direct connection to human life. And we look at it as a God in three parts, or rather, persons.

This is all very flowery, abstract language to speak to us of ourselves and our relation to the world and the nature of God. Books have been written about it and numerous congregations bored out of their minds.Preachers fear Trinity Sunday as the preachers’ graveyard. Just as the comedians of old died at the Glasgow Empire so it is in the pulpit.  Perhaps we have to make up our minds that it is all a bit out there and beyond but maybe not. We believe in a creator God who has made us with the prime purpose of being people in relationship with God to worship God. The enduring energy of that creation we call God’s, or Holy, Spirit. In the Spirit of it all, anxious to renew and repair God’s creation, God sends the Son, the enfleshment of ancient hope.

We pray for the wind/spirit of God to blow away prejudice, barriers, and for the Son of God to be born in all people. We pray for the dynamic of God not just to calm, sooth and comfort but to follow through the moment of Pentecost bringing the differing peoples of the world to one vision and hope. The dynamic of giving and receiving love tries to elicit in us the sacrifice of ourselves to make space for the other. The creator gives the Christ to the cross joining the difficulty of the human dynamic of sin and repentance. Again this week we see just how hard that is as people called by God to live in peace find only a violent way.

People who have not heard much about Christian faith, and there are many, still think of God in the Old Testament way, a punishing God, excluding those who have not got life quite right. The evangelist’s task is to speak of a loving God in forgiving relationship. In whom is the beginning of it all, including our propensity to fall away, a strong wind to rock our assumptions and baby falling out of a cradle into life which hurts and who picks up and directs the wind to be a changing and healing force.


© 2016 Frank Wright

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