I was learning about compost. I’d never composted before, but a member of the church I serve informed me it was simple and that we should start a composting program at the church. I took him to coffee and he shared with me how easy it was to construct a compost bin. He talked about his own family’s composting experiences. He informed me how once the right microbes are placed in the right environment, they could take almost any kitchen scrap and turn them into the most amazing compost, which we could then use in the church flower gardens. “These microbes,” he said, as he looked up from his coffee and smiled, “well, it’s like the soil is alive.”
Living soil isn’t a phrase thrown around in the church that often. The much more common concept is that of the “living waters.” These living waters, whether the waters of creation, the waters of baptism, or the “living water” inside each of us, all babble around the concept of ways the Holy Spirit has made itself manifest to us, sharing the hope and love that only comes from the divine.
Of course it is during the festival of Pentecost when we celebrate the church being given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We read in scripture that the Spirit was poured out in rushing winds and tongues of flame, and I feel that the same Spirit is still being poured out in affirming and creative ways. Faith communities throughout the world are faithfully sharing their gifts and responding to issues in the name of justice. Whether they are acting against gun violence, global warming, poverty or domestic violence, it continues to amaze me the good that our numerous communities of faith are able to cultivate through the dedication of their members.
Take Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham, New York for instance, the church I currently serve. After years of dealing with insufficient boilers, and a skyrocketing heating oil bill, Huguenot Church installed a geothermal heating and cooling system. This system utilizes the relatively constant temperature of the earth as a fuel source, naturally and sustainably, creating a clean and renewable climate control system. The bold action by this faith community, empowered by the Holy Spirit, has created more ways for local programs and organizations to utilize our space.
Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a statement, which declared “the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958.” Carbon dioxide is the most harmful and significant greenhouse gas we find in our atmosphere. Huguenot’s geothermal system burns no fossil fuels while maintaining climate control for our entire building.
It is now summer, yet the red flames of Pentecost seem to linger, as the days are warmer and that special joy and fervor still fills the air. This is the season when people around the country celebrate the gifts of water. Whether swimming, sailing, boating or playing in an open fire hydrant, we are easily reminded of both the ways water plays an active role in our lives, and also the constant blessings and workings of the Holy Spirit. It is true, that the spirit is still active today, not just through living water, but through the living soil as well. Let us celebrate the way the spirit is currently at play in our lives, and may the church continue to be open to creative new ways to honor our past and our contemporary place in the world.