Pentecost 2008 – full sail
Uncle Hugo used to take us sailing. We would go down to the harbor, open up the cabin, and haul out the bags of sails. We took the covers off the winches, the tiller, and the mast. We were ready to go.
If it was a windy day, the boat shifted and rocked in its berth, straining at the moorings. But then we would push the boat away from the dock, get it out into the free water, haul on the lines, and let the wind fill our sails.
You could feel the power of the wind tugging at the moorings, but to move forward you had to cast off and let the wind fill your sails.
This church is built like the body of a ship – the nave; look up: see the beams like the ribs of a ship, and the wide boards like the planks of a ship’s hull.
Like my uncle’s boat, the Pampero, which he named after a mighty wind, to get somewhere we need to be released, set free.
When Jesus said to his disciples, receive holy spirit, what you release on earth is released, what you leave bound, stays bound, he was telling them how it is: what you are forgiven, and what you forgive, you are released from; the sin you hold onto, holds you.
The power of forgiveness, given by God in Christ Jesus, sets us free.
We are all in the same boat – we are all gathered under one roof, in one nave – and we each have jobs to do. Some of them are mundane, some extraordinary; all are needed. At times each of us sticks to our own task; at other times all hands turn out.
We are embarked together on a journey – a pilgrimage – and, as the archbishop of York said in his Easter sermon last year, “our journey is towards oneness with God. As we journey our calling is to make manifest to everyone the compassionate face of God made visible in Jesus Christ."
We begin by receiving the holy Spirit, and by using the gifts of the spirit given to us; by being forgiven, and by being forgiving; then moving forward together, released, in the power of the Spirit, on a voyage together into the open waters of the freedom of God.