It is a windy day in Michigan here. I sit and watch the trees swaying and remnants of autumn’s leaves rustling in the wind.
There is a bush in our front yard near the road. The deer have been nibbling at it all winter long. I’m not sure it will survive the spring though. I think they may have stripped it of all life.
The wind and the signs of spring remind me of a verse in John’s Gospel. Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Spirit of God is like the wind. We cannot see the wind. We don’t really know what it is or where it comes from. All we can see is the effect it has on its surroundings. And so we see the trees sway. Paper and leaves move over the ground as if on their own accord. And petals drop to the ground.
So it is of those born of the Spirit of God. We don’t really understand how it happens. It just does. And we see the affects of His Spirit as it moves upon the person. We see them change; become more like Christ; we see them desire the things of God.
And so we see what we want, but we do not know how to get there. It is a frustrating place to be. We see it. We want it. But we cannot reach out and touch it. And we certainly cannot control it.
So we wait…and we seek…and we pray. And we are reminded it is not by power or might, but by the Spirit of God.
Today, pray this prayer with me…
Come, Holy Spirit, come! Amen.
My in-laws are of Irish decent. And March 17th is filled with all sorts of festivities. Many of the cultural celebrations of St Patrick’s Day are unappealing to me. These have more to do with getting drunk and seeing how many shades of green we can layer upon ourselves. It’s not that I am a prude or opposed to having fun. I just find fun in more “sobering” ways.
But St. Patrick’s Day is not about green beer and corned beef. And I’m not sure it is even about a man from Ireland. It is about a man taking the Good News about the Good Shepherd to the lost sheep in a foreign land. I am reminded that there are still lost sheep today. Some are living in foreign lands and some in our own neighborhoods. Men, women, and children who need to hear there is hope. They need to hear there is a Shepherd Who longs to heal their wounded soul.
As we celebrate today (and, for some, all week long), let us remember the lost sheep around us. Invite them in. Share a drink and a laugh. Tell them there is still hope in this crazy, crazy world. And love them like the Good Shepherd would.
Boxing is a sport I can appreciate. Two men beating the snot out of each other, and the last one standing wins. I can follow that strategy. There are very few rules; no hitting below the belt, listen to the referee, and take breaks.
It would do us well to follow these same principles in our relationships. Saint James and Saint Paul give us similar rules to help us.
1) be quick to listen
2) be slow to speak
3) be slow to become angry
4) if you get angry, at least don’t sin
5) do your best to resolve the issue, preferably before bed
I don’t always remember these. And, my guess is, you don’t either. I suppose that’s why Jesus also commanded us to be quick to forgive. Forgive those who neglect these principles, and forgive yourself when you also fail.
Here’s to a year of learning to fight fair. But remember it may take a lifetime.