Fake It 'Til You Make It!
Passage: Romans 8:14-26
Date: April 22, 2018
Preacher: Rev Laurie M. Newman
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Years ago, I was amused by the woman who pointed out that the Trinity is not an Old Man, a Young Man, and a Bird. And, since then, I have thought about part of God the Holy Spirit reveals. Father Richard Rohr has a wonderful litany of the Holy Spirit that lists many names for that Holy Spirit, some familiar, and some unfamiliar. Today, I will be sharing some of those. I have a slide show here, on the large (invisible) screen. And these photos are not in chronological order.
1. Here are the disciples, in the week after Jesus’ crucifixion. See the dark room? See their dejected, sloped shoulders? Note the heavy, bolted door. They are afraid, and they are mourning for their friend and mentor. They are traumatized by his torture and death. In a moment, something big is going to happen that will change them forever. They will encounter Jesus in a whole new way. And, not visible yet, they will receive the Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Indwelling Presence.
2. This photo is a God’s eye view of the planet earth, and the one billion people from all over the planet, remembering Earth Day today. Celebrating Earth Day in our climate reality, feels inadequate. It feels like this may be a hopeless cause. The activist pictured here, said, “The climate has changed, and now, it appears we may not be able to stop it. But we must do the right thing. And the right thing is to act with all our power to make improvements, and to hope.” Fake it till you make it.“Now hope that is seen is not hope. But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
The Holy Spirit is invisible, but the name we may give to her in this photo is Overcomer of the Gap.
3. This photo is from February 5, 1969, at a beach in Santa Barbara. This was the largest oil spill in US history. (It is still the third largest.). See the six inches of crude oil blanketing the beach? And, those are dead and dying birds. The high school student is Kathy Morales. She is being interviewed by a reporter, as she cries. That is a dying loon near her. It is in convulsions as it dies. She is saying, "This is my life – out here. I come out here all the time to watch the sea and the birds and animals. I can't think of coming down here for a stroll again. I can't think of someday bringing my children here to watch and to play.”
The Holy Spirit’s name in this scene is God’s Tears.
4. This is a photo of the following year— the very first Earth Day. Because of the Santa Barbara oil spill, in 1970, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and Stanford graduate Dennis Hayes, led a staff of 85 people. They rallied these 20 million people across the United States. Children and adults gathered to find ways to defend the planet. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values. In 1969, it was unthinkable that these issues could be addressed. In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established. Shortly after that, the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts were passed. If you look closely, you might glimpse the Holy Spirit in this photo. The name here is Through-Seer.
“Now hope that is seen is not hope. But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
5. Here is Westminster, early in 2010. In the lower level of the education wing, is the Pastor Nominating Committee discerning whom to call as the next Pastor/Head of Staff. Except for short periods, the head of staff and majority of preaching had always been done by men. And now, for first time in Westminster history, the committee is deciding upon a clergy couple, the Revs. Beth and Gregg Neel. That chair at the end of the table? The Holy Spirit is resting there, sometimes called the Wind of Change.
6. Here are our Senior High kids and leaders last year on the mission trip in South Carolina. They are in humid heat, up on the roof, working hard. Despite being sweaty and tired, they are feeling inner contentment, having begun friendship with the owner of the house. See those smiles? The Holy Spirit present here is sometimes called, the Great Bridge Builder.
7. Here is the Holy Spirit working in a completely different sphere. This man is looking for a life partner. He’s been dating online. After meeting some people, making several friends, being tricked once, and after falling in infatuation, getting his hopes up and being very disappointed, he is feeling hopeless, lonely, and discouraged. A friend reminds him, to live his life fully, with genuine appreciation, without the imagined partner. Fake it till you make it. There, in the voice of the friend, is the Holy Spirit, known as Wisdom.
8. Here is a family sitting at their dining room table for a holiday. Notice the empty chair. This year, a loved one died. They are eating the traditional meal, but the food is tasteless, like sawdust. The house is too quiet. They are wondering if there will ever be a holiday as happy and full, as they had in the past. Then, one person shares a memory, and suddenly, each one has a momentary, visceral, feeling of the smile, the laughter, the love they shared. For a few seconds, they realize, the love is still with them. Look, there, in the quiet shadow, there is the Holy Spirit, known as the Comforter.
9. Here are two photos. The one on the left, is a barren Costa Rican pasture in 1997. See the 1,000 truckloads of orange peels and orange pulp unloaded there? And next to it is a photo of that same seven acres today: See the lush, vine-laden forest? The area has grown 176% in biomass. It cost nothing to put the orange waste there, and now, it is a wonderful example of carbon sequestration. A biologist/ecologist says, “It’s not just a win-win between the company and the local park — it’s a win for everyone. See what is flying from that leafy tree? It is the Holy Spirit, sometimes called a Wild Bird.
10. This is a photo of 800,000 teens, children, adults standing shoulder to shoulder on Pennsylvania Avenue, in DC, on cold and sunny March 24. See the dozen teenagers and children far up on the tiny stage? They have each witnessed horrific gun violence in their schools, and outside their homes. Despite shaking knees and churning stomach, despite being accused of bad motives, these youths speak with courage and clarity. They are demanding that human life be prioritized over profit and politics. The 800,000 people are silent for an astounding seven minutes, as the dead are remembered. How do these young leaders continue on, when the attention turns so quickly away from mass shootings? What keeps them going?
Fake it till you make it. The Holy Spirit is shining here, sometimes named Truth-speaker.
11. Oh, here is the final slide, and as you will see, it is blank. It is for each of us. What seems too impossible to change? What about the future is too frightening to consider? Look around. See who is next to you, in front of you and behind you. Take a big breath and let the Holy Spirit inspire and fortify us. We are not alone.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
And we name her by many names: Pure Gift of God, Eternal Praise, Warmer of Hearts,
Space Between Everything, Cloud of Unknowing, Softener of Our Spirit,
Deepest Level of Our Longing, Holy Healing.