Hurricane - Monday Musing, August 23, 2021
Hurricane: a storm with a violent wind, in particular a tropical cyclone in the Caribbean. It comes as no surprise that today’s musing is titled hurricane. For days, the airwaves have focused on nothing but Hurricane/Tropical Storm Henri. In last Friday’s news conference, Governor Charlie Baker asked that all cars stay off the road Sunday, highlighting concerns for The Cape. Of course, the news zeroed in on this being the 30th anniversary of Hurricane Bob, the last-named hurricane to hit Cape Cod.
So on Saturday, the Church Cabinet was e-mailing back and forth questioning whether we should cancel Sunday worship due to the hurricane. It seemed odd having this conversation – I had just returned from biking the Cape Cod Rail Trail and the sun was shining brightly. It was a glorious day on The Cape; hard to imagine a pending storm.
While we received overnight rain with a small amount of wind Sunday, The Cape was essentially spared – this time. By afternoon, the sun was out so I went for a wind-swept bike ride on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. While the wind was nowhere near hurricane or tropical storm strength, I couldn’t help but focus on the wind.
You will recall from scripture (Acts 2) on the first Pentecost, there was a mighty wind. Early in the morning, 120 believers were meeting together in a house in Jerusalem to wait and to pray as Jesus had instructed them. As they were worshipping, they heard a loud sound coming from the sky. It was the wind. The wind was howling, as they had never heard it before. They looked up and saw what looked like giant tongues of fire descending. The tongues of fire landed on each person present. In that dramatic moment, all the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. And they each began speaking in different languages, “as the Spirit gave them the ability.”
Today I am thinking about wind; not just regular wind – hurricane wind, the wind of God’s Spirit. Interestingly, the word for Spirit and the word for wind are the same in Hebrew – “Ruak.” So, where is the wind of God’s Spirit at The Federated Church of Orleans?
In her book, The Great Emergence, author and religion professor, the late Phyllis Tickle, uses the analogy of “The 500-Year Rummage Sale” to describe religious change over the years. Tickle said that historically, the church “cleans house” roughly every 500 years, holding what she calls a “giant rummage sale,” deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, making room for new things.
The time of Jesus was the first rummage sale, an era Tickle calls “The Great Transformation,” when a man who was “Emmanuel, God With Us” created a new understanding of our relationship with God. Five hundred years later, we saw the collapse of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Dark Ages. The Church entered an era of preservation, going underground with monks and nuns practicing the monastic tradition in abbeys, convents, and priories. Next, at the beginning of the new millennium in 1054, came “The Great Schism,” when the Christian Church split into the Eastern and Western branches that we still see today in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Then in the 1500s, “The Reformation” resulted in new branches of Christian tradition, with different understandings of how people relate to God personally through direct prayer and individual interpretation of scripture.
Every 500 years or so, Tickle says, there were tectonic shifts in the Christian tradition, resulting in huge changes of both understanding of and the practice of Christianity. It has been 500 years since the Reformation – is the church ready for its next giant rummage sale? Tickle says we are entering a new era of “The Emergent Church,” a religious movement that crosses denominational boundaries, seeks common ground, engages diverse cultures, embraces social causes as ways to live out Christ’s call to serve others, and takes place largely outside of church buildings. Is this the church of the future?
The most basic message of Christianity is one of resurrection and renewal. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17, NRSV). So I invite you to let the hurricane wind of God’s Spirit take us where it is that God is leading. See you in church!