A Second Wind

On June 5, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

A Second Wind Pentecost Sunday Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins {Let there be peace among us and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.} When I was a child I was enthralled with the story of Sleeping Beauty. […]

A Second Wind
Pentecost Sunday
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

{Let there be peace among us and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.}

When I was a child I was enthralled with the story of Sleeping Beauty. Disney’s version is the one that I knew. Princess Aurora was the sleeping beauty, but the real movers and shakers in the story were some fairies: Flora, Fauna, and Meriwether. The villainess of the story was the diabolical fairy, Maleficent. The story shows that most fairies are good, but every now and then there may be one that’s a real pain.

When the Princess Aurora was born, the good fairies bless her with magical gifts.
Flora affirms that the princess will grow up to be beautiful.
Fauna decrees that she will be musically gifted.
Just as Meriwether is about to give her blessing, mean ol’ Maleficent crashes the party and lays a curse on the infant. On her 16th birthday, Maleficent predicts, the princess will prick her finger on a spinning wheel’s needle and drop dead (mwahaha). Nefarious Maleficent, content that she has ruined everything, leaves in a maniacal huff.

Flora and Fauna then tell Meriwether that it is up to her to undo Maleficent’s mischief. So Meriwether waves her wand to block the hex; she takes a deep breath and then decrees that if the princess should injure herself with a tainted needle she will only seem dead; she will, however, only be in a deep sleep and true love’s kiss will have the power to wake her. There is a chance that the princess will get a second wind, and a second chance.

Aurora is sent away to be raised in seclusion under the protection of the good fairies, but once she sneaks out, bumps into a handsome young fellow, it’s love at first sight, but the love is unrequited as Aurora has to return to her safe haven.

Sure enough, on her 16th birthday, Maleficent finds her, lures her to a spinning wheel that has a poisoned needle attached, and Aurora pricks her finger and falls into a death like slumber.

Of course, in the end, the handsome young fellow from her earlier chance encounter finds the princess, kisses her, and she returns to full and vibrant life. Maleficent then gets her comeuppance and Aurora and her beau live happily ever after.

I am 50 years old and that story is still with me. It still speaks to me. It reminds me of the power of hope. It reminds me of the power we have to offer blessings. It reminds me of the power of love. It reminds me of the possibility that not matter how terrible things seem to be, they can get better. It reminds me that even a few old fairies can change the world. And the story reminds me that fear can be defeated.

Maleficent is the powers of greed, hatred, bigotry, and selfishness.
She tries to destroy a baby, which represents the vulnerable.
But the good fairies aren’t taking that lying down. They are determined to get a second wind. Oh, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning…a second wind is on the way!

Second wind stories are found throughout our scriptures.

The prophet Ezekiel dreams about his community being depressed, defeated, exhausted, lifeless. But in his dream he speaks to the winds and asks them to come into the dry bones of his community, to renew and resurrect his community, and the winds do. His people get a second wind.

The prophet Elijah is taken into the heavens by a whirlwind. A wind takes him, and as he ascends his spirit, his energy, his enthusiasm, falls on his disciple Elisha, given him more wind in his ministry sails, giving him the power to continue in Elijah’s footsteps. The prophetic ministry will continue thanks to a second wind.

The Psalmist prayed (Psalm 51.10): …God, renew a steadfast spirit within me.
In other words, help me get my second wind.

Jesus said (Luke 11.13): If you know how to give good gifts to the ones you love, how much more will God give the holy Spirit to those who ask for it?
In other words, no matter how rough things might seem, we can ask God for a second wind.

That’s what the Pentecost story in Acts is today: it is the story of a group of frightened people getting a second wind.

Jesus has been executed. Followers of Jesus are being targeted for imprisonment, enslavement, and execution. The Roman Empire is the only super power in the world and its idea of peace is to dominate every group and country and community and bend them to the Roman imperial will.

Life is hard and scary and often dangerous. People are terrified. They feel powerless. John writes about the empire in Revelation by comparing Caesar to a beast and his army to a dragon. The Beast and his dragon are against the community of Christ, that is, they are anti-Christ.

To be in the Christ community, to be in the business of hope, healing, peace, inclusion, and the affirmation of the sacred value of all people is to be a target of the empire.

The Jesus way lifts people up but empire can only function if a bunch of people are knocked down and kept out.
The Christ community, where the first are last and the last are first, where the unlovable are loved and the untouchable are embraced and those who feel broken are told you are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake…the authentic Christ community is at odds with the empire, but the empire has all the power (or so they say).

We are seemingly powerless. Our hero was executed and we call him the lamb of God. How can we stand up to a beast and his dragon when all we have is slain lamb? Things look bleak and they feel worse.

But Pentecost says: we’ve been here before.
Remember Ezekiel. His people got a second wind, and they came back to life.
Remember Elijah. He was carried away by a wind and the power that carried him away empowered the next generation of prophetic work.

The powers and principalities of domination may seem to have the upper hand today, but we’re about to get a second wind.

And so, on the day of Pentecost, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were. And they got fired up. And they were all filled with the Breath of wholeness, the holy spirit, and began to speak in new ways, communicating to people who hadn’t heard a word of hope in a long time, they started speaking words of hope as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Jesus Movement wasn’t born on the day of Pentecost, but it did get its second wind.

At Pentecost, the church remembers that they have a prophetic mission; they have a spiritual calling and spiritual gifts to keep that mission active. And so, they get their second wind and can now affirm with the prophet Isaiah (61.1): The Spirit of the Lord is on [us], anointing [us] to proclaim good news to the poor, to comfort the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for prisoners.

Is Maleficent doing her worst? Is Rome, the beast and its dragon that is against all that the Christ Community is meant to stand for, is Rome wreaking havoc? Is there a war on the poor? Is xenophobia out of control? Are transgender people being dehumanized? Are same-gender loving people having their dignity assaulted? Is the earth herself in danger? Perhaps. And maybe all we’ve got right now is a slain lamb. But if history is any indication, that and a second wind is all we need to unleash mighty currents of hope and healing in the world. And this is the good news. Amen!

© Durrell Watkins 2017

Breath of Hope,
Wind of Empowerment,
Gale of Possibilities:
Blow into our lives today.
Alleluia!
Amen.

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