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      Sunday sermons 

      Each week Pastor Keith Cardwell’s Sunday sermon is posted on this site. Several other recent sermons are also available here. You can go back over it to review what he said — or if you cannot come to church, you can still enjoy his sermons.

      Up to the Highest Height
      Acts 2:1–21
       Pentecost Sunday 
      May 15, 2016

      Way back in elementary school, I was in a school play that included the song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins. I still remember most of the words to that song:

      Let’s go fly a kite,
      Up to the highest height.
      Let’s go fly a kite
      And send it soaring—

      Up through the atmosphere,
      up where the air is clear.
      Oh, let’s go fly a kite.
      Let’s go fly a kite.

      I was reminded of that song as I was putting this sermon together. A while back I came across the idea of kite flying being a way to explain Pentecost. Today is Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Easter. Today we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit on the church as revealed in Acts 2.

      Let’s look at how flying a kite can inform us about God and the Spirit:

      Kites are earthbound until they are lifted by the wind. Kites will not fly without wind. They will not soar through the atmosphere without wind. No matter how colorful your kite, how aerodynamic your kite, how expensive your kite, a kite will not rise to where the air is clear without wind. Without wind, a kite is useless.

      The Spirit of God is often compared to the wind. One Hebrew word “ruah” means breath, wind and spirit. So, if kites cannot fly without wind and the Hebrew word for wind is also Spirit, then we can make the connection that we cannot soar to the highest heights without the Spirit of God.

      On the day of Pentecost the disciples are earthbound. They hide in Jerusalem. When the Spirit of God, like a mighty wind, blows over them, they soar — out into the streets and into foreign lands. They proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, telling everyone they see that Jesus is the One sent from God to take away the sins of the world. Jesus is the light to dispel darkness. Jesus is the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the love of God lived on earth.

      The disciples move from the upper room to the streets. We cannot stay in a holy huddle. Kites have no power except that of the wind.

      And kites have no direction apart from the wind. John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” We also need to pay attention to how and where the Spirit is moving in our lives and how it is calling us to respond. We can’t soar trying to fly against the wind.

      The Spirit of God moves us from worship, from devotional, from study, to ministry and mission — from the safety of a building to the danger of the streets. The wind blows us to lift up those who have been brought down by poverty or education or illness; to be Christ to those who are hurting; to march with those who have faced injustice.

      The Spirit of God is often compared to the wind. One Hebrew word “ruah” means breath, wind and spirit. So, if kites cannot fly without wind and the Hebrew word for wind is also Spirit, then we can make the connection that we cannot soar to the highest heights without the Spirit of God.

      On the day of Pentecost the disciples are earthbound. They hide in Jerusalem. When the Spirit of God, like a mighty wind, blows over them, they soar — out into the streets and into foreign lands. They proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, telling everyone they see that Jesus is the One sent from God to take away the sins of the world. Jesus is the light to dispel darkness. Jesus is the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the love of God lived on earth.

      The disciples move from the upper room to the streets. We cannot stay in a holy huddle. Kites have no power except that of the wind.

      And kites have no direction apart from the wind. John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” We also need to pay attention to how and where the Spirit is moving in our lives and how it is calling us to respond. We can’t soar trying to fly against the wind.

      The Spirit of God moves us from worship, from devotional, from study, to ministry and mission — from the safety of a building to the danger of the streets. The wind blows us to lift up those who have been brought down by poverty or education or illness; to be Christ to those who are hurting; to march with those who have faced injustice.

      The spirit moves us:

      ● To invite people to start a community garden.

      ● To visit the lonely in the hospital or nursing home and spend some time with them.

      ● To share the love of Christ to those in jail.

      ● To walk with those who are broken by divorce, death, unemployment.

      ● To start a summer ministry for kids of working parents.

      We go where the spirit says go, and soar where the wind of God blows.

      The frame of a kite is in the form of a cross. Of course, the cross reminds us of Christ and the crucifixion. Kites need both the horizontal and vertical structure to shape it. Christian living requires both the vertical and horizontal.

      We tend to live life on the horizontal. We live a sort of functional atheism. We say, “The Lord is with us,” but we live as if there is no God. We say we believe but live as if it is all up to us.

      Kites will not soar to the heavens with only the horizontal frame. There is also the danger of living in a way that focuses only on the vertical — being too spiritual. A person can get too wrapped up in the vertical, but most of us don’t have that problem. Our temptation is to think that what I think, feel, breathe, hear, touch is what’s important.

      So here we have the basic structure of a kite: the horizontal and the vertical. Here is the basic structure of our lives. Indeed, Jesus put it another way: He said the greatest commandment for living is to love God (vertical) and to love neighbor (horizontal). The greatest commandment — the basic structure of human life — the life Jesus himself led: love of God and love of neighbor.

      So, we have the basic structure of a kite: the horizontal is our caring relationship with our neighbor; the vertical is the abiding relationship with God.

      And if our life is to be compared to flying a kite, there is another element to consider:

      The kite string. For a kite to fly, it needs a sturdy string. A kite resists the string, but a kite without a string will end up crashing to the ground. The string is not the kite’s enemy but is, in fact, the source of its power.

      When I was a youngster, the other neighborhood kids and I would fly kites. When the wind was right, we could use a whole roll of string. And if the kite got caught in the upper winds, the kite would pull and tug, wanting to go higher. We’d tie another spool of string to our existing string and away the kite would rise hundreds of feet into the air — so high that it would be a dot in the sky. When it was that high, the resistance on the string was powerful, and the kite wanted to break loose from its tether. At the same time, if the kite broke free from the string the kite would become wildly erratic and eventually fall from the sky.

      God is the kite string. God is the source of our power. We need to be grounded to God, connected to the “kite flyer” at all times. As we move about in life, sometimes we will move gently and sometimes wildly. It is in the tensions of life, in the push-and-pull of experiences, that the kite is allowed to fly higher and higher. In the end, it is our connection to God that will keep us from falling.

      It is truly amazing what kite flying can teach us, if we are open to the lesson.

      So let’s go fly a kite!

      The spirit moves us:

      ● To invite people to start a community garden.

      ● To visit the lonely in the hospital or nursing home and spend some time with them.

      ● To share the love of Christ to those in jail.

      ● To walk with those who are broken by divorce, death, unemployment.

      ● To start a summer ministry for kids of working parents.

      We go where the spirit says go, and soar where the wind of God blows.

      The frame of a kite is in the form of a cross. Of course, the cross reminds us of Christ and the crucifixion. Kites need both the horizontal and vertical structure to shape it. Christian living requires both the vertical and horizontal.

      We tend to live life on the horizontal. We live a sort of functional atheism. We say, “The Lord is with us,” but we live as if there is no God. We say we believe but live as if it is all up to us.

      Wind power
      Pentecost Sunday combined kite-flying fun and learning about the Holy Spirit at Swift.

      Kites will not soar to the heavens with only the horizontal frame. There is also the danger of living in a way that focuses only on the vertical — being too spiritual. A person can get too wrapped up in the vertical, but most of us don’t have that problem. Our temptation is to think that what I think, feel, breathe, hear, touch is what’s important.

      So here we have the basic structure of a kite: the horizontal and the vertical. Here is the basic structure of our lives. Indeed, Jesus put it another way: He said the greatest commandment for living is to love God (vertical) and to love neighbor (horizontal). The greatest commandment — the basic structure of human life — the life Jesus himself led: love of God and love of neighbor.

      So, we have the basic structure of a kite: the horizontal is our caring relationship with our neighbor; the vertical is the abiding relationship with God.

      And if our life is to be compared to flying a kite, there is another element to consider:

      The kite string. For a kite to fly, it needs a sturdy string. A kite resists the string, but a kite without a string will end up crashing to the ground. The string is not the kite’s enemy but is, in fact, the source of its power.

      When I was a youngster, the other neighborhood kids and I would fly kites. When the wind was right, we could use a whole roll of string. And if the kite got caught in the upper winds, the kite would pull and tug, wanting to go higher. We’d tie another spool of string to our existing string and away the kite would rise hundreds of feet into the air — so high that it would be a dot in the sky. When it was that high, the resistance on the string was powerful, and the kite wanted to break loose from its tether. At the same time, if the kite broke free from the string the kite would become wildly erratic and eventually fall from the sky.

      God is the kite string. God is the source of our power. We need to be grounded to God, connected to the “kite flyer” at all times. As we move about in life, sometimes we will move gently and sometimes wildly. It is in the tensions of life, in the push-and-pull of experiences, that the kite is allowed to fly higher and higher. In the end, it is our connection to God that will keep us from falling.

      It is truly amazing what kite flying can teach us, if we are open to the lesson.

      So let’s go fly a kite!


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      • Presbytery of S. Alabama
      • Synod of Living Waters



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      Swift  
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                   —————
      23208 Swift Church Road
      Foley, AL 36535
      Phone: (251) 943-8367
      email: swiftpc@gulftel.com