“Let’s Have Some Fun” Pentecost 053120. Alan Neale.
Trinity Church, Newport RI
Psalm 104:26 ‘And there is that Leviathan, which you [O Lord] have made for the sport of it’. Or as the Message Translation reads, ‘Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in the waters’ or ‘splashes in the sea’ (Contemporary English Version)!!!
Today we celebrate the inauguration of the Christian Church… over 2000 years ago a band of disheartened, discouraged, disillusioned, dispirited people were transformed into a missionary and militant army for Jesus! And how was this done… by the power of the Holy Spirit. As a young child once described it to me… the Holy Spirit came from heaven with “a whoosh” and gave Pentecostal blessings to all who were waiting and ready and open to receive Him.
Now sometimes, friends, you will hear the question asked, “Is this is a charismatic church?”. Well “duh” of course it is… if this church is not empowered, directed, energized by the Holy Spirit… it is no church! If the Christian is not empowered, directed, energized by the Holy Spirit… he/she is no Christian!
The Holy Spirit is the dynamic energy of God… present (hovering over, ready to “whoosh”) at the beginning of the world, at the renewal of the people of God (remember the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel?), at the baptism of Jesus and at the inauguration of the church!
In today’s text (Psalm 104:26) the Psalmist shares with us some insights into the very nature of the Holy Spirit.
Creative Power! “There is that Leviathan… which you have made”… formed, created. At the Jewish feast of Pentecost, Jerusalem was packed with many who were not, to say the least, sympathetic to Jesus and to the Christian message. Faced with such colossal apathy at best, opposition at worst, the disciples were understandably a rather timid, hesitant band huddled together in an upper room. And then… suddenly… they are filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly, confidently proclaim the message… and in such a way that all may hear it.
Oscar Wilde once suffered the vain prattling of a party guest; when the man boasted, “I am a self-made man”, Wilde could bear it no longer and to that comment responded, “Well, thank God, that relieves the Almighty of a terrible responsibility!”.
We as individuals, and we as a church, cannot (and really should not wish) to claim to be “self-made”.
Chaotic Power! “And there is that Leviathan which you have made…”. Scholars are divided (as usual!) as to whether this “Leviathan” is a large sea monster or a mythical beast of unbelievable proportions. Whatever the truth… this is a creation that makes safe, planned, organized living simply impossible. I can’t help but remember the endless struggle in which I engaged to keep tidy the toys of young children at home… though a beloved power, they were surely chaotic and helped me, often with a struggle, to let go and surrender!
Many years ago, at a Church Garden Party, a sudden and powerful wind struck the event just as the Vicar was giving his speech. The local newspaper recorded, “A sudden gust of wind blew away the Vicar’s notes and other rubbish”!
When the Spirit comes, there is always “rubbish” to be thrown away… detritus which hinders, holds back spiritual life and growth.
“Speaking in tongues” if nothing else is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s sovereign activity in our lives and our need to let go and surrender!
Power – Creative, Chaotic and, and…
Comedic Power! “And there is that Leviathan which you made… for the sport of it… to romp and splash in the waters”. Now most, if not all of us, have questions for the Lord as to why He made this, why that… but the Leviathan, why? Well, the divine answer will be something like this, “Simply for the fun of it!”.
Does your theological image of God have room for this insight into the divine character… some things He simply does for “fun” and surely He wishes to share this with us?
I remember the story of the man who was standing outside his church trying to encourage passers-by to come in. With glum face and heavy voice he made his invitations… all ignored him except one… who stopped, looked and listened and then replied, “Sorry, I have troubles enough of my own”.
On page 132 of the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous”, Bill Wilson writes, “We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it”. There is nothing holy in misery and nothing evangelistic in shared misery!
Years ago Susan Boyle was the talk of blogs, websites and twitters… this rather unassuming, seemingly unpretentious, English woman (of mature years) soared to the top of those competing in “Britain’s Got Talent”.
When she first appeared, inevitably she was judged as being somewhat dowdy, maybe drab, surely unprepossessing but… as soon as she opened her mouth to sing the judges were stunned and amazed.
Friends, the church is often dismissed, ignored, overlooked as a little dowdy, passé, quaint but irrelevant but when we come to open our mouths, in the power of the Spirit, to speak of God and the love of God for all his creation then we will, in the Spirit’s power and for the glory of God, make an impact.
Susan Boyle’s song, from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, was “I dreamed a dream”… let it be our song to a often hopeless world, “We dream a dream” of experiencing the creative, chaotic and sometimes even comedic power of God in our lives.
Come Holy Ghost! Amen