This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”

Welcome to the gathering of St. Mark’s Church Sunday, May 30th, 2021.

Romans 8:12-17

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us — an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

I invite you now to a time of prayerful reflection.

Prayerful Reflection:

Reflection song: Beautiful things by Gungor


         Christ Dancing by Heimo Christian Haikala

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”

Song: She Sits Like A Bird [Enemy Of Apathy]

Welcome and Notices:

Praying the Psalm:

Today we are going pray together a section from Psalm 104. Here the poet rejoices over the great diversity and plentifulness of God’s creation. Poetically, the psalm portrays God delighting over creation intimately as we would with our pet animal – that delightful relationship of love and care, how your pet is in despair seeing you leave and how delighted it is when you turn your face towards it. But this relationship is more than that. Spirit of God gives life, the Spirit of God is the breath of creation. Spirit of God, the breath of life, is what energises and animates creation. Because of this, creation reflects the energy and beauty of God.

People of God, where do you see the delight of God? What do you see in creation that brings you delight and joy? So church, let us praise and give thanks to the Spirit of God, in whom and by whom all of creation have its being!

Please respond with the words in bold.

Psalm 104:24-34

What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow

with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—

   the deep, wide sea,
brimming with fish past counting,
Kahawai and hector’s dolphin and blue cod.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
 they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
Take back your Spirit and they die,
revert to original mud;
When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.

The glory of God—let it last forever!
Let God enjoy his creation!

Prayer for Others

We will now be led in Prayer for others.

Song: Lord’s Prayer

[The offering will be brought up during the chorus “Amen”]

Offering Prayer

Song: Take My Gifts And Let Me Love You  

Scripture Reading:  John 3:1-17

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Sermon Reflection:

What images of the Holy Spirit do you know? A dove. In one of the accounts of Jesus’ baptism the Spirit descending on him, is portrayed as a dove. Fire. In Acts, when the Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus, comes upon the disciples, it’s said that the Spirit comes as tongues of a flame. Wind. In the same reading, as well as here, the image is that of a wind too.

What would you say is the common thread in these images? What aspect of the Spirit do these images try to speak of? Images like fire and wind for me speaks of energy and dynamic movement. Fire emits heat that warms us in the frosty cold winters. And no definitely not a heat pump. Spirit is not like a heat pump. Spirit is like a fire that gets to our core, that warms up those shivering bones and softens the joints to get us going. Spirit is like the fire that we want to gather around not a heat pump.

The Spirit of God is also like a fire of a kiln and fire of a stone oven. Spirit is like the fire of a kiln that makes a moulded mud into a cup, a bowl. We take mud and mould it into what we hope it can become. We place jt into the fire of a kiln with hope of a possibility. The fire makes what could be into reality. Spirit is like the fire of a stone oven. We make a base out of a dough. On it we put tomato paste, cheese, salmon pieces, capers, mesculun, dash of lemon juice, and slices of avocado, with thick mayonnaise. We place it in the wood fired stone oven and they become sumptuous pizza, wafting with aroma, crispy on the outside, gooey inside. What’s more, get a cold piece of left over pizza and put it in the wood fired oven and it freshens it up! No, the Spirit of God is not like a microwave!

The Spirit is like the wind. The wind is dynamic and liberating. We catch the wind to sail, we tack to catch it again as it shifts. Seeds catch the wind to find fertile soil to grow. Birds catch the wind to fly incredible distances. Wind blows where it blows. Be free, as we say, free as the wind blows. The sense of being taken up by the wind into the sky against the gravity of life that puts burden on our souls is freeing, liberating.

For these reasons we use words like renew and revive to what the Holy Spirit does. What has grown cold, unresponsive, lost its shine, lost its purpose, lacking in energy, lacking in motivation, the Holy Spirit renews and revives for the purposes of God’s love for the world we see in the gift of Jesus, the Heavenly Father’s only Son.

There is another image of the Spirit I would like us to consider. It is that of breath. In Psalm 104, it says “Take back your Spirit and they die, revert to original mud; When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” The resonance of creation story is heard. Like the image of dove, that recalls the Spirit hovering over the primal waters before God’s creation, like the dove of promise that returns to the ark after the flood, the image of the Spirit as breath imagines a new creation, a new life. Without the breath, we die. With the breath we live. Spirit is the breath of creation.

In today’s reading, there is no mention of the word breath but Jesus speaks about being born again and under the same breath he says about being born again by the Spirit. Like the Psalm, Jesus understands the Spirit as the one who gives life and, in this case, new life. For Jesus this new life is the life of the Kingdom of God or the way of life that is love, love that we see in Jesus, Christlike love.

I’m intrigued by this connection Jesus makes between the Spirit as breath and being born again. I think many of us are accustomed to think that God is the air we breathe or God in whom we live and move and have our being. Such image is true and beautiful as well as powerful. However, I think Jesus’ connection between the Spirit as the breath of God and being born again goes beyond this as well as deeper and more intimately.

Let’s remind ourselves that the promise of the Holy Spirit coming upon the followers was given to them by Jesus. It was after Jesus died and was resurrected and ascended into heaven, it was then the Holy Spirit came. This sequence is important that the Holy Spirit comes after Jesus ministry of life, death and resurrection. This sequence is important because what we proclaim is that God has done a new thing in Jesus. By God reconciling all things between God and humanity, between humanity and all creation, between peoples across all generation past, present and future, by this new work of God, the new foundations are laid for a new creation, a new beginning. In other words, the Holy Spirit who has come to the followers of Jesus gathered, was not a Spirit of revival and renewal. The promised Holy Spirit did not come just to reenergize the tired and revitalize the worn out. This Spirit did not come just to rekindle the spirit of those whose heart has gone cold. This Spirit of new creation did not come just to freshen things up a bit and give a real good encouragement so that they can give it another go, one more time. This Spirit of new creation comes to give a new breath, to create anew a people. I want to share this story with you. And I hope it helps us to imagine anew with tangible sense of reality for who you and I are because of the Holy Spirit.

I remember very clearly when Lisa gave birth to Naomi Saehee. It was tense. I know some people say that giving birth is a natural process. I think I know what you mean by that but if at all it is meant as normal, it’s just how it is, so many mothers have done it and will do it, so many babies have been born and will be born, then I disagree with you. It is because I have witnessed Lisa my wife giving birth to Naomi, I have a new appreciation for each and every person as particular and special. I remember holding Lisa’s hand. I remember our heavy breathing, trying to find breath in the midst of tension, stress and hope of seeing and holding our baby. What became the final push, a moment after this, a remarkable thing happened. In a very short space of time, but what felt like an eternity, where time slows or even stops, there was what felt to me to be absolute silence, tangible silence, the boundary between impossibility and possibility, what could be and what would never be, a boundary between life and death. The silence was broken by a cry of a baby. Only then, Lisa and I began crying with joy and saying our baby is here, with a sense of great relief and ecstasy of hope realised, our baby is here.

When we are born, we take our first breath, the boundary between life and death. With the first breath, with life, comes the voice, a cry of separation and vulnerability, a cry for help. I wonder whether this is what Jesus is referring when he makes the connection between the Spirit of God and us being born again. When the Holy Spirit comes on the followers of Jesus, it’s like taking the first breath. The first breath we take, the breath of life that animates us, the Holy Spirit of new creation. Holy Spirit is the breath, our first breath, our new life. And as soon as we take our first breath, the Holy Spirit, we are given a new voice. This voice is not a cry of desperation but one of love, one of welcome, the voice of God, the word of God, Christ Jesus. We are birthed by God again, with a new breath, so that our voice and our word is Jesus, divine love realised on earth. You and l, friends, the family of God, the body of Christ on earth, you and I are birthed by God, to be the voice of God, the word of radical welcome, the word of love, the word of Christ Jesus to the world God so loves so that we may give voice to those who are voiceless, in another words, those who are breathless.

Reflection Song: Every Breath Is Yours by Alana Levandoski


Song: Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness  

Passing of the Peace of Christ:

Song of Sending: Every Day I Will Offer You


The Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with us all now and for evermore. Amen.