Summary: America is a land swept by the winds of change. Are they destructive? Yes, if we invest in religion without integrity and if we accept leaders committed to materialism. But refreshing winds are possible as we the church are in touch with the Spirit.
In the hills of eastern Kentucky, not far from where we once lived, there is a hidden-away estate called Windswept. If you crawl up the winding grade of US 421 to the wide place in the road called Morrill, off to your left there is a driveway that leads to a lovely stone house. Windswept was owned by a music professor at Berea College; she operated it not just as her residence, but also as a site for music workshops. I probably never would have known about the place, much less gone there, had it not been for my musician brother, who regularly attended Windswept workshops.
I loved to go to Windswept, just to take in the view; the house is perched on a ledge overlooking a broad valley with dramatic vistas. Green hills – Kentuckians called them “knobs”; a winding stream; rocks everywhere. And up on that ledge the winds blew vigorously – sometimes refreshing us from the summer heat, but sometimes sending torrents of water down the hillside. Sometimes refreshing winds, sometimes destructive winds, at Windswept. In fact, I learned that the beauty of that valley was something of an illusion; in that valley the green hills were dying from acid rain, the people were strangling without work, and the roads were so poor that the school bus only managed to arrive a couple of times a week. I learned that the winds of Windswept can be destructive and deadly as well as refreshing and pleasant.
On this Independence Day in America strong winds are blowing. Winds of change, winds of stormy controversy, winds brought by new ideas and by people who differ from the America of my childhood. America is a windswept land, where we can no longer assume that nearly everybody is alike. I have a book of biographies of prominent Kentuckians of another generation; in it there is a page on my great-grandmother, Sallie DeHaven Sterett Moorman. The book says, “Mrs. Moorman, being from western Kentucky, is OF COURSE a Baptist and a Democrat”. Once there was a time when you could say “of course” about us But the winds of change have blown, and now even in western Kentucky they have Muslim mosques and they vote Republican! America is a windswept land, affected by the winds of change. Are these winds destructive or are they refreshing?
“Windswept” is the way the prophet Hosea described Israel in the 8th Century before Christ. Changes were coming to the nation. Five kings in twenty-five years. Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian general, breathing at the gates of Samaria. Hosea was worried; Hosea cried out about Israel’s precarious perch on the ledge. “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” This is no refreshing wind that Hosea names; this is the storm wind that destroys. Like those hurricanes that hammered Florida last year, the winds that Hosea saw sweeping over Israel would uproot everything.
But Hosea believed that winds destroyed because the people had stirred them up. “They sow the wind, they reap the whirlwind.” Hosea believed that Israel would become a nation swept into the garbage heap of history for two reasons. Look with me at the text: