By Dr. Kevin Yoho, transformation pastor (interim)
Two young fish are swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What water?”
Sometimes the most important things are the hardest to see, and the easiest to take advantage of. The fish story, popularized by author David Wallace Foster, reminds us that when we are so immersed in our own context, our own experiences, our own history and stories, we can miss the most obvious truth: there are others around us who don’t see what is important and worth paying attention to.
Imagine two young people walking along, and they happen to meet an older person walking the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, how’s your spirit?” And the two young people walk on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What spirit?”
Followers of Jesus would know what the spirit is, and specifically, have come to know the Holy Spirit of God who indwells every follower of Christ. Many of our fondest childhood memories and life’s most significant events have a direct, or at least an indirect, connection to the Spirit that we experience every day. We have years, even decades, of spiritual remembrances as we worship and listen to God’s word alone, or as we gather as a community of faith on Sundays. Our spiritual experience at Cold Spring Church a high-value weekly event. And why shouldn’t this be the case? Cold Spring Presbyterian Church has been nurturing spiritual life for more than three hundred years.
The older fish in the first story understood the value of water, just like the older person understood the value of the spirit in the second story. But in each story, younger ones have not yet recognized what the older ones plainly saw. This presents an incredible opportunity.
In Acts 19, the apostle Paul met a group of people that did not understand the Spirit, either. They knew about Jesus, heard for example about the baptism of John, but didn’t experience the gift of the Holy Spirit. “That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus… you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus” (Acts 19:4). Paul did not assume everyone knew what he knew. He saw an incredible opportunity to share the Spirit in ways people could understand. He demonstrated the love, joy, and hope that everyone deserves to know about.
Since I arrived about ten months ago as the transformation pastor, I have sought to help promote spiritual energy and guide the congregation about the shape of ministry in the future. For example, I ask us to consider, “Are we a vital cemetery that happens to have a worship building on the campus, or are we a community of faith vitally connected to the community at large that happens to have a cemetery?”
How we answer that question is being revealed by what we focus on, how we invest our resources, and what we measure in deterring our progress on God’s best path ahead. It’s not always easy to experiment with try new things, but I am delighted that we are actively making new community connections. So far, attendance and spiritual energy is increasing, and new people have been participating. We have incredible stories from the past to share, but we have also seized the possibility that more people, young and old, could nurture their spiritual life at Cold Spring Church. Like Paul said to that group who knew nothing of the Spirit until he told them, our neighbors are also ready for the real thing, for Jesus. How will we tell them?
This Summer, nurture your own spiritual life in every way you can. If you’d like suggestions on how to do that, ask one of our leaders, or me. We are ready to serve you. As you are able, volunteer to help at our events. Maybe you will invite a friend to attend with you, or simply start a new conversation with a neighbor. Be a welcoming friend.
Have you heard young people and families asking, “What Spirit?”. I have. And I also know that Cold Spring Church can be that welcoming place to bring their spiritual possibilities to life this Summer.