Wind Blown. (Living by the Word)

By O'Brien, Bill | The Christian Century, May 31, 2003 | Go to article overview

Wind Blown. (Living by the Word)


O'Brien, Bill, The Christian Century


Sunday, June 15

John 3:1-17; Romans 8:12-17

"The Spirit of the triune God is and will always be the life force of the world and all that is good and hopeful in it, which includes the hunger for God."--Joanna Adams

DURING AN ATTEMPTED COUP in Indonesia in 1965, an estimated 500,000 people were killed. What did not make the headlines was the quiet revolution that began to move into a collapsed intellectual and moral vacuum. The wind of the Spirit blew fresh breezes across a wounded land and people. There was no ballyhoo or promotion by the churches. There was simply the response of untold numbers who found in the churches a haven. Forgiveness and love became the "wine and bread" of acceptance and redemption. Slaves of tear no more. Thousands were able to eucharistically sing, "Abba, Father."

I have seen the wind blowing in other places. In Ghana the statue of President Kwame Nkruma in downtown Accra was smashed. The inscription below his figure read, "Seek ye first the political kingdom." The wind of the Spirit was dealing with those who usurp power. Slaves of confusion no more. Thousands would know the real "Abba, Father."

In this country the "Jesus movement" was shaking foundations across denominational lines.

I visited a church in California where those dressed in business suits sat next to barefooted hippies. Latinos, African-Americans and whites focused on transcendent issues. Across America crowds packed stadiums in Jesus rallies. Slaves of prejudice no more. Thousands celebrated the love of "Abba, Father."

In South America, base communities sprang up. An Argentinian Pentecostal explained that Catholic base communities gather without trained leadership, focus on issues of injustice, then read the Bible to see how God would lead them. Pentecostals, by contrast, start by reading the Bible, isolate the issues that are alienating them, then seek God's leadership for solutions. Essentially, both groups come out at the same place. Methodology is not the issue when the Spirit is blowing fresh breezes across the lines that separate brother and sisters in Christ. Slaves of denominational pride no more. Thousands could recognize an inclusive "Abba, Father."

The wind of the Spirit blew open prison doors. Nelson Mandela walked into freedom with responsibility. I was mesmerized when I saw him appear on the balcony of a building in Cape Town, face an awed audience of half a million, and acknowledge the reality of the past. Then he said, "The rest of my life I place in your hands." It was a commitment of trust and solidarity. Slaves of apartheid no more. Thousands could celebrate a merciful "Abba, Father."

The wind is blowing. God is at work through the church and beyond the church. Political systems resist anything beyond themselves and the elite class they serve while at the same time the country's churches may be poor, weak and helpless. …

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