On a recent trip to cross the Ambassador Bridge, Julie and I passed miles and miles of wind farms on highway 401 between Chatham and Windsor. These huge towers with their 20+-metre blades catch the prevailing wind and transform it into electricity. And in that wide-open southwestern Ontario landscape between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, the wind blows quite briskly and quite often.
Wind power is a promising form of renewable energy, but the wind can be hard to catch on a regular basis. The best winds don’t blow at ground level. The strongest and most consistent winds blow high up in the air, where they carry many times more energy than down below.
Because the tallest wind turbine is only about 200 metres high, harvesting this high-energy wind is a challenge. But leave it to human ingenuity. Sky WindPower, an Australian company, has developed a flying generator that looks like a cross between a kite and a helicopter. The rotors lift the frame to a high altitude, and cables tether it to the ground. The generator inside the frame catches the high-velocity wind, converts it into electricity, and sends it back down to earth through the cables.
Moral of the story: to catch the wind, you have to be at the place where it is blowing. Wind engineers know this. And that was also the experience of Jesus disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2), which we shall celebrate on Sunday, June 8. The disciples have followed the ascending Jesus’s instruction to return to Jerusalem and wait. Suddenly the group is caught by a mighty wind—the wind of God’s Spirit—and amazing things begin to happen. In fact, the rest of the book of Acts shows the energy produced by this Spirit/wind as the disciples radiate outward into the world with preaching, teaching, healing, confronting political authorities, and building up their own Christian community.
If we at The First Mennonite Church wish to experience the dynamic, renewing, transforming energy of the same Spirit/wind of God, how can we position ourselves to catch it? Perhaps the attitude and activities of the disciples on the threshhold of Pentecost can be instructive for us. Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us they were gathered together, “constantly devoting themselves to prayer” (1:14). And then, in God’s time, the Spirit/wind came upon them.
We cannot summon or control the Spirit/wind of God. It blows when and where it pleases. But perhaps by gathering regularly in worship, and engaging in prayer—constant, ongoing prayer, including prayer to be open to God’s Spirit—we, too, can be in a position to catch the wind of Pentecost.