Amherst has been making the news lately with the storms, and the rain and the hail. Last night Fr. Larry and I couldn’t even get through the news without the weather warning breaking through. It seems like it’s been storming every day since I got here. For those of you that don’t know I'm coming from St. Barnabas in Northfield. Just a week ago we had a tornado warning that began in the Strongsville area and travelled west across 82 right through Northfield. I was at a parishioner’s house for dinner and we were interrupted by the news warning every one of the strong winds and funnel clouds forming.
My first inclination, of course, was to go outside and check it out. And yes, you could see the dark ominous clouds enveloping the blue sky. It began to wrap around in a large circular pattern. The wind was bending the trees and then you could see sheets of rain begin to fall from the sky. There is nothing like a storm that helps me feel the power and the presence of God.
The youngest daughter was afraid of storms wanted everyone to come together and hide in the basement. As the storm grew worse one by one each of the kids went down followed by the mother and then the father. They were all safe and huddled together in the basement.
Storms, especially when they are threatening, have a power to bring us together. Notice the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. "When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were."
On Pentecost we are reminded that Our God is not silent. God is a God of power and might. Just as we are awe struck by a raging storm, we are even more moved by the power of God. Remember the biggest storm that you’ve ever been in and the feelings that came along with it. Storms have a power that is way beyond our control.
We probably all either know people in our lives that for one reason or another have separated themselves from our faith. Maybe it is your son or daughter or even your spouse. I know that the pain is great and you so much desire your loved ones to return to the Eucharist and come together on Sunday. If you desire this, how much more does God desire it! Even more so God desires that we are all brought together in the safety and protection of His Son, Jesus.
When we come here together at this altar to celebrate the Eucharist, it's like we are in the basement as a family, gathered together, safe from the storm. And God knows that storms have a tendency to bring us together.
Sometimes we forget that God is real and that God is powerful. Sometimes we feel like maybe He is not present and not active and we can have a tendency to stray. One of the ways that we can be gathered together is during a storm.
Here's the thing, God doesn't sit by inactively and idly allowing us to stray and to wander off and to separate ourselves from Him. He loves us too much. Perhaps there is someone in your life right now a good friend or a family member who has separated themselves from the faith, maybe they don't come to mass anymore or say they don't believe in God. Even more than you desire for their faith, God desires that they may believe.
God is not weak and powerless to our unfaithfulness. No rather, God loves us all enough that He will rage a storm, furiously, powerfully, strongly, passionately to bring us back. That same strong driving wind that was active in the Acts of the Apostles is active today.
God is more powerful than any storm this world has ever experienced. And if it takes storms to bring us back to Him, then God will send the power of His Spirit to help us to realize that we are weak, we are powerless, and we do need his safety and protection.
If you know someone who is away from the love of God, someone whose faith is weak, someone who is indifferent to the Lord, trust that He loves them too much just to let them stray. God will work through some storm in their life to bring them back to the safety of His Church. And just as the family gathered together in the basement during the tornado and the disciples were all in one place together at the, God will continue to work through the storms of this life to gather all of us together.
This Pentecost, remember that God is not weak or indifferent. Stand in awe at the power of our God who comes to us in the storms of our lives, loving us… burning with love for us, and bringing us together in one place.