Reflecting on John 3:1-17
I love to collaborate with others in creating liturgy. Words, symbolic objects and gestures can dance with the Holy Spirit like the slender pine trees on a mountainside dance with the wind. They make what is invisible tangible to our body-locked perceptions.
Any creative group can birth liturgy. Often we do it without even knowing — as when we put the best tablecloth out for Thanksgiving dinner or put a little drop of food coloring in the beer for St. Patrick’s Day. We’re symbol-using creatures; we instinctively understand what objects and images will capture meaning.
All it takes is an openness to what our hearts are saying. In gatherings called to create liturgy, the Spirit speaks to all the participants, zinging from one soul to the other as an understanding of the meaning of the ritual we desire to create blossoms. We remember good poetry, our favorite glass chalice, candlelight in the darkness of a voluminous church. “I know what will speak here,” we find ourselves saying. And, “yes,” we say when another person’s idea feels right.
The sign that the process has been successful is how God is able to use the ritual to reveal God’s self. Good liturgy is like a windsock that way. It fills up with God and points in the direction that the Spirit is blowing. We find ourselves uplifted, our hearts deeply stirred. We remember the experience for years, and we want to repeat it again and again.
Until out of and beyond the liturgy an amazing truth unfolds and we find the thing itself. Our own spirits, born of wind and water, are part of that vast and awesome Spirit of God. We are children of Breath, of Ruach. We have always been so. The liturgy, the windsock, is small in this huge world that includes us all.
No one can take this from us. We are born anew at each moment, forgiven our sins and embraced just as we are. We come from an unknown place, and we are returning to where we belong. We are part of the deep inhale and exhale of the cosmos. Look. Here is the kingdom of God.
Image from Wikimedia Commons by Taxiarchos228 – Own work, CC BY 3.0.