I stand humbly before you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Please God fill this sermon and this congregation with Your grace and spin us into the saving Son-shine of Your eternal glory. Amen.
It’s almost June. It’s almost Summer! My favorite season! Woohoo! I’m getting older and life just seems to be going faster and faster. I feel like the speed of life coincides with our age. And now I’m exceeding the speed limit, only for Long Island but I’m getting there. Racing around lap after lap. The spin cycle going faster and faster.
Does your life ever feel like you’re in the spin cycle? Life spins you in circles over and over and just spits you out dazed and dizzy. You struggle to stabilize yourself and the spin starts all over again.
It only makes sense. We’re on a planet that spins 1,000 mph. We’re spinning around the sun over 67,000 miles per hour. Also we’re programmed for this from birth.
Most of us feel pretty safe and secure, stabilized for nine months in our mother’s womb. Dark, warm, secure with a nice soothing heartbeat in the background. But even in the womb we prepare ourselves for life. We spin and rotate preparing for delivery.
Then we’re born into a world of bright lights and shocking noise. This new life may be shocking and terrifying but it’s also exciting and new! Everyone and everything that was on the outside is now in our face, in living color and louder than ever. The excitement of being a newborn! Happy Birthday!
Most of us as newborns exhibit what is known as the Moro reflex or the Startle reflex. We jump and twitch because we no longer feel safe and secure. We often feel like we’re falling. We’re destabilized. It takes most of us six months to stabilize to this shocking new environment. That’s when the Moro reflex starts to wear off. As I lay down to sleep my startle reflex seems to start up all over again. I’m literally falling into sleep. My wife can’t wait until I finally grow out of that.
Pastor’s sermon on May 16th sparked an idea in my head. He mentioned more than once about how life can often seem to be spinning out of control. For some reason that made me think of spinning into control. Which got my head spinning thinking about Bible verses about spinning. Dizzy yet? Hold onto your pews.
Jeremiah 18:2-6 – “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
We, as the clay on His potter’s wheel are not to question how we are molded or why we’re molded the way we are. Trust in His craftsmanship as you trust in His answers. His will be done. Embrace His loving touch as He molds us in the spin cycle. We are being shaped in the spin. He has us in His hands. He has the whole World in His Hands.
Ezekiel 1:15-19 – “Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.”
The prophet Ezekiel describes the gyroscope assemblies the angels use to carry God’s throne. The throne is moving at lightning speed through the universe but it never turns. His throne stays stabilized. Gyroscopes were invented to demonstrate the Earth’s spinning. Gyroscopes are still important and used by us today for air travel, missile guidance systems and compasses. They’re even located in our mobile devices to precisely track us no matter what our orientation is. God physically and spiritually knows our whereabouts and stabilizes us with His Grace. Precise, controlled, perfectly timed movements revealing God’s Glory and His Word to us.
2 Kings 2:11 – “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
Here we have the real chariots of fire, not the movie. A flaming chariot with flaming wheels. Ophanim is the Hebrew word used for the chariot wheels that carried Elijah into the clouds. Ophanim is the same word for those gyroscopes of God’s Glory.
The prophet Elijah is carried off spinning into the sky. Many think Elijah ascended into heaven but only Jesus has both ascended and descended from the throne of heaven. Elijah was only relocated away from Elisha so Elisha could carry on with his work and wear his mantle. God transported Elijah elsewhere into the sky which is why we hear from him later on in scripture. Again, we see the wheels to stabilize Elijah so that rapid relocation doesn’t damage him. No whiplash for Elijah as he is spinning under the control of God.
One morning at Sunday School during the opening ceremony, DCE Chris Boccalupo was showing us a video. The video froze and the spinning circle showed up, the loading icon. One of my students, Sam, looks to me and says Jesus is buffering. I corrected him saying the connection on our end is buffering Jesus is always connected perfectly to us.
When Jesus ascended, He wasn’t relocating to somewhere else on Earth. Jesus was ascending to His throne in the actual Heaven. Jesus gradually rose up before His apostles. He didn’t just disappear because He wanted to show His people that He was still one with our Physical world. The world of their understanding. His creation. A powerful visual reminder of Him. The Person of Jesus. God in the flesh impossibly rising above our Earthly realm. The impossible is par for the cross, par for our Christ.
It’s also symbolic of His second coming. He will return the same way. Descending from the bright clouds as He rose into them. His return will be physical and be visible by everyone. Jesus was gently handling the eyes and minds of His apostles as He gently handles us with His Word and Sacrament.
Pink a gifted American singer/songwriter recently released a song that sounds like a prayer. A song that she sings with her daughter Willow. The song is about finding happiness during tough times and looking forward to a promising future. The song is called “Cover Me in Sunshine.”
At the 2021 Billboard Awards, the mother and daughter duet performed the song acrobatically while suspended in the air, spinning and swinging to and around each other. The lyrics sum up all our feelings, “Cover me in sunshine. Shower me with good times. Tell me that the world’s been spinning since the beginning. And everything will be alright.” It will be alright. God has it all under control. And always did, even in the beginning when He started the spinning.
In our Gospel, Nicodemus is a Jewish leader, a chief priest among the Pharisees. He is supposed to be a man of faith, but he is a lost man who doesn’t know that He just came into the presence of the stabilizing compass of God’s Love. Nicodemus was caught in the spin cycle of Roman occupation, religious traditions and his fellow Pharisees twisting and spinning every word Jesus spoke.
Nicodemus (Nic at night) came to Jesus in the cover of darkness. BUT he steps right into God’s spotlight. Covered in God’s shining Son. The true darkness was that Nic didn’t really know God. Especially in the form of Jesus. Jesus speaks with Nicodemus and holds nothing back. They discuss being born again.
The word Jesus used that is often translated to born is more like begotten, to be Fathered anew. Fathered anew! Instead of born again. To be reconciled with the Father! This is something that only Jesus can do. Jesus emphatically tells him that unless you’re born of water and spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. A baptismal birth by way of God’s Grace and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The earth is rotating from west to east. Our own physical dimension points us to Jesus. As the sun rises in the east. Symbolizing His Risen Son and which direction He will return from. Nic has this discussion with Jesus after Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Jesus entered through the eastern gate. He ascended from the Mount of Olives and will return to the Mount of Olives. This area is also east of Jerusalem. He will land in the Mount of Olives and again enter the eastern gate.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were made to leave through the eastern gate. East of Eden, again not the movie. It only makes sense that Jesus reconciles us with God and leads us back through the eastern gate.
I sit in that pew. I sit there because I love to see the sun rising behind this stained-glass window. During the 8 am service I see the sun light up the lamb of God. The white wool blazing out to me. I look for the Risen Son! I’m covered by His Son-shine!
Lift our eyes to Jesus! See Him coming in His glory from the eastern sky. The direction to His Perfection. See Him raised up above the cross into the bright clouds. Jesus covers Nicodemus in His Son-shine! Nicodemus is born again, and we know this because he donated seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes to help Joseph of Arimathea with the embalming and burial of Jesus.
God calls us to let go of our traditions, our distractions, our false gods and let God be God. Pray for God to open your eyes and strengthen your faith. Lift up our eyes to Jesus raised up. Covering us. See Jesus for Who He is. Our everything in eternity.
Understand that it is all under His control. Our earth spinning us right into His presence. This spinning Universe created to reveal our Creator. To deliver and present us to our Creator. Our True Father.
We are on God’s controlled spinning creation in the spotlight of His Glory. His Grace, Power and Love molding us. Understand that the spin cycle is not out-of-control but know that all of creation works to bring you to Him. We’re spinning in His control. Always in His Hands, ever stabilized in His spin.
We get turned around by our own crazy distractions, ignore them and go with the flow. Know that the Love and Grace of God upholds us and points us His Light. Spins us into His Glory. Spin with Him not against Him. When we allow our false gods to flatten our clay, the One True God’s careful fingers and strong Hands pick us up and begin to mold us anew. We’re reborn.
Newborn babies need human touch just to survive. We are all newborns in eternity. How much more do we need His Touch! His eternal touch! Stabilizing, strengthening and molding us on His spinning potter’s wheel! The Love of God spinning each of us into eternity with Him. Just keep your hands and feet in the ride at all times!