‘Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls’ shouts the psalmist through the drenching thunder.
So many of us are nervous souls, battered down by cares and worries, apprehensive for loved ones or ourselves. The experience of hurt and disappointment has left us timid and small. The adventure of childhood has long since been buried to allow us to cope with our journey towards the end. The thrill of life is now often found only in a book or on a screen. We manage our environments as best we can – warm homes, stocked cupboards, comfortable cars. Even so, financial worries still fret away – will we be able to afford next month? Church, too, is sedate and safe, routine and reassuring. Danger is best avoided with a thorough risk assessment. Our small worlds are contracted to a single stone in a bare field.
The wilderness is a long way from here. Thankfully?
I read a poem recently, about Christ being crucified on “the skull of the world”. It’s reference, of course, to the hill on which he was crucified, called ‘Golgotha’, meaning ‘place of the skull.’ But it captures something far deeper about the deadness of the world, the deadness of humanity, on which and for which he died. The poem goes on to speak of the one who hungered yet fed others, who thirsted while inviting others to come to him to drink, who raised the dead to life while dying himself. As the mockers so astutely put it ‘he saved others, he cannot save himself.’ How? And why?
Christ lived under the thundering cataract of God, the swirling presence of the Holy Spirit. We have been given so many images of this Spirit; water, wind, fire, and none of them are comfortable, not even the dove, who ‘drove’ Jesus out into the wilderness. And yet the Spirit is called the Comforter.
Perhaps its time we rediscovered this Spirit of God.
The Bewcastle Benefice sermon for Pentecost can be found here.