I wrote two sermons this weekend. It was an overachiever* kind of day I guess. Here is part of the one that didn’t get preached. Not yet.
Perhaps that part of our nature is what makes the Ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit so necessary to our life in God. God showed up here on earth, in the flesh, because God loved the created world and all of us enough to be part of it rather than apart from it. But people tend to limit God’s love – to decide where God is and is not present, who God loves and does not love. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of knowing that God’s ways are greater than our ways, and that God is more than a single answer.
Billy Collins, the contemporary American poet, describes the process and frustration of introducing students to the art of poetry. Naturally, he does so in a poem, called “Introduction to Poetry”
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
We tried to extract the answers from Jesus by intimidation, by force, by violence and even by death. God gave us the Resurrection to show that there is no way to pin God down and demand answers, and God gave us the Ascension so that we would stop trying to put God in a box, in a form, a place that we could define. Faith is more like poetry than science. We need to live in God’s world – to show up and explore, to make choices and make mistakes – and witness to what God is doing in our lives and in the world around us. And in that process, learn what God is doing differently in others’ lives.
*Ironically, it took me three tries to spell overachiever correctly. Guess that mojo left with the weekend.