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A Balloon Ride

May 5, 2013

Have you ever been up in a balloon? When? What was it like? Did you like it?

When I was still living in the Midlands Viv and I had a balloon ride. It was a joint birthday present to mark our 40th birthdays. It was an amazing experience. Once we were all in the basket the canopy was inflated, the forwards and upwards we went. We went straight up until houses were dots before coming a little lower so that we could appreciate the scenery. One of the amazing things that I remember about that trip was the sense of not moving. It was as though we stood still while the world moved beneath us. There was no wind blowing on us because we were travelling with the wind. It was also strange to be fully at the mercy of the wind. We could go up or down, but we couldn’t steer, we just had to go in the same direction as the wind.

I, like most people in this country are so used to choosing where I go. I am used to feeling in control of where I go and what I do. So it was a sobering experience to let all of that go and float on the wind.

Thinking about that experience led me to think about my life and what it means to be a follower of Jesus and to be led by the Spirit. This life means being willing to let the wind of the Spirit blow me where ever and when ever he wills. Resistance, just slows things up and spoils the ride. I had that sense of being driven by the Spirit when I left full time ministry and moved to Lowestoft, I felt it too before coming here to these parishes along the Waveney Valley. Being a Christian means being willing to let God have his way. I can argue, I can complain or question, but in the end I know that I must follow where I’m being led.

I suspect it was how Paul felt. He was blown all around the Mediterranean by the Spirit, telling people about Jesus where ever he found himself.  Through Paul’s willingness to be blown by the wind of the Spirit his is thought to have spread the message about Jesus to far more people than any of the other apostles.

When I think of trusting the Spirit to blow God’s people where he needs them to be, I think of the early Irish missionaries that came to Scotland and Wales and England. They came to the pagan lands that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire here in Britain. They sat themselves in little skin boats and then had someone push them out into the Irish Sea. They had no sail or oar could only go where wind and tide would take them. But through this trust, or perhaps we would call it madness, they brought Christianity back to Britain. Setting up Christian communities and churches on the west coast before moving inland.

That is how we need to be here. We can plan, and be prudent. But all of the time we need to be feathers resting gently on the ground. Then at the slightest puff of Spirit wind we can be blown where God wants us, and do what God wants us to do. We too need to be a little bit mad, at least in the eyes of others. I can’t change anyone’s life. I can’t give anyone eternal life or meaning to life hear on earth. Only God can do that, in fact God has done that. All we can and should do is be led by the one who changed the world forever through the madness of the Cross. We need to be mad enough to love where others hate, as we share in Christ’s mission where the Spirit has blown us.

So now the only choice left, is small boat or balloon. Which would you prefer?

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