ELW 400 God of Tempest, God of Whirlwind
Vs. 4 God of passion, God unsleeping, stir in us love’s restlessness! Where the people cry in anguish, may we share your heart’s distress. Rouse us from content with evil; claim us for your kingdom’s work, claim us for your kingdom’s work!
On Sunday as we celebrated Pentecost, those of us gathered in the parking lot for worship sang hymn ELW 400, “God of Tempest, God of Whirlwind.” I adore Pentecost hymns, and singing (finally!) with the gathered body (finally!) was amazing (finally!). As we sang this hymn one word stood out to me and I thought about it for much of the day: restlessness.
“Restlessness” stood out to me because it is also in another Pentecost hymn, ELW 396 Spirit of Gentleness, which was my ordination hymn. “Restlessness” isn’t often portrayed in a positive light. We think of restlessness and conjure up images of a kid who can’t wait to open Christmas presents, or that feeling of being antsy or jittery. We think of restlessness and we imagine that feeling of not being able to relax and it makes us uncomfortable or anxious.
But as we sang together it struck me that restlessness is a God-given, positive quality that the Spirit stirs up in us. “Stir in us love’s restlessness” implies inspiration, a response or a force that propels us forward into good. Being restless has its place in our lives as we seek to love God and our neighbors. The opposite of restlessness is calm, which absolutely is a gift. We need moments of calm! But we also need the restlessness that makes slumbering in the face of evil, distress, and angst impossible. As people called to do the work of God’s kingdom here and now we do not want to be so asleep that we miss the stirring of the Holy Spirit calling us to proclaim the good news, advocate for our neighbors, and love God with our whole heart.
What makes you restless? What is counter to the kingdom of God that it makes you so restless that it propels you to action? To love? To justice? Pay attention, friends, to the Spirit when she stirs up restlessness in you. And may your restlessness bring the kingdom of God that much closer to us here and now.
In Spirit, Pastor Ruth
Let us pray:
Almighty and ever-living God, you fulfilled the promise of Easter by sending the gift of your Holy Spirit. Look upon your people gathered in prayer, open to receive the Spirit’s flame. May it come to rest in our hearts and heal the divisions of word and tongue, that with one voice and one song we may praise your name in joy and thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend, Amen.