LIKE A FULL FORCE GALE...
“And no matter where I roam
I will find my way back home
I will always return to the Lord
In the gentle evening breeze
By the whispering shady trees
I will find my sanctuary in the Lord
I was headed for a fall
Then I saw the writing on the wall
Like a full force gale, I was lifted up again
I was lifted up again by the Lord”
From Full Force Gale by Van Morrison
As the barometer, by the front door, drops to "stormy" and we hear the wind blowing a gale outside, rain lashing against our windows I often drawn to this Van Morrison hymn.
Released originally on Van’s Into The Music record, Elvis Costello and the Voice Squad’s version on the Van Morrison tribute album No Prima Donna heightened the spirituality of the piece.
It was that version that was used to make it into a choir introit to my installation service in Fitzroy in November 2009. We have used it on occasion since, no more appropriately than in the Sunday service the day before Van's 70th birthday.
Full Force Gale is a simple song of trust and dependency. It is a song of belief that God will draw us back and lift us up in the image of the Spirit as a full force gale. The strength of the Spirit blowing through our souls will bring life.
The Old Testament Hebrew word ruah and the New Testament Greek word pneuma mean wind but are the words used for the Holy Spirit. The image of the Holy Spirit is of a wind that blows through, sometimes gentle and refreshing, other times like a hurricane or full force gale.
The image of the full force gale in the life of a follower of Jesus that I love most is found in John chapter 3 where Jesus is talking to Nicodemus. In verse 8 we read, “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.”
Now, first of all, let us note that the wind that blows here is not the Holy Spirit but the one born of the Spirit. As we listen to the wind, hopefully from the safety of our homes, let us ask if the image we have of followers of Jesus is one of such power and energy and unpredictable force. If not, the Church needs to ask, why not?
If I go back to the sentiment of Van Morrison's song then my prayer is that those of us who feel that our lives are a little lost and directionless might find the full force gale of the Spirit itself lifting us up and returning us home.