This past weekend I had the privilege of traveling to Kanab, Utah, to participate in the installation service for Marcia Meier as the pastor of the United Church of Kanab-Fredonia. Kanab is in southern Utah, on the Utah-Arizona border. My route took me by air to Las Vegas, and then a three-hour drive carried me to Kanab.
What greeted me in southern Utah was awesome, and I do not use that word lightly. High cliffs and mesas seemed to appear on every side, the exposed minerals turned red by oxidation. It matched my childhood imagination of what the American west looked like.
I had decided to take a little extra time on the drive and travel through Zion National Park. In the park, this magnificent landscape could be up close and personal. I saw rock arches in the process of forming, arches like those I had known in Red River Gorge and other parts of eastern Kentucky.
Up close, the striations on the rock confirmed what the arches had announced. Much of this rugged and inspiring landscape had been shaped and carved by wind. Over eons, as water cut down into the earth, the wind carried particles of sand, and even the air molecules cut into the exposed rock, breaking loose large boulders while also eroding and smoothing the surface. The result was the stunningly beautiful and awe inspiring scenes that I was able to appreciate.
In the beginning, reports Genesis 1, the earth was without form until a wind from God blew across the face of the deep. The Spirit, the pneuma, from God blew across the chaos and gave the first form to creation.
The Spirit of God continues to be a consistent, powerful, and creative force. It blows where it will, even though we don’t know where it comes from or where it goes (John 3:8).
In baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The waters of baptism expose us to the wind of the Spirit, the breath of God blowing into our lives. Just as the wind can shape rock and form a stunning landscape, just as it gave the first contours to creation, so God’s Spirit continues to mold and shape us.