Well, for what it’s worth, I preached my first sermon of 2010. It’s a meditation on two letters I received on the same day—one from a dude who wanted me to give him money so he can make my prayers come true, and another from a family who used to worship at our church. Here’s a passage from my sermon:
Verse 17: “Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Notice how the Spirit comes through the hands, through the flesh, through bodily contact. Some people like to separate body and spirit, material and spiritual, what we do with our bodies and what we do with our thoughts—but that’s not what happens in this story. The Holy Spirit goes to the people of Samaria with Peter and John, all the way from Jerusalem. The Spirit travels with people; the Spirit happens in human contact, a material point of contact, the laying on of hands, a touch.
This touch is the affirmation of fellowship, of solidarity. The laying on of hands is the communication of the Spirit, which makes possible their communion, their fellowship, in the same body of Christ. Now the same Holy Spirit circulates through the church in Jerusalem and this new church in Samaria. They are all wrapped up in the same movement of God. These two different groups become part of the same movement through something done with human hands, with bodies that travel, with the material of this world. The Holy Spirit comes through human contact. The Spirit flows through material, fleshy stuff like our hands.
For the whole thing, follow the link to the church website: A material Spirit.