Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Faith like a Kite’
© March 15, 2015, by Steve Mickelson
Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #611 (Comfort from God – from Isaiah 40); Prayer
Opening Hymn #191: Spirit of God in the Clear Running Water; Choruses
Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Scripture Verses: Leviticus 11:13-19, Mark 7:1-23, Ezekiel 10:8-22
Let us pray…
Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, where I would like to share with you a lesson entitled: ‘Faith like a Kite.’
March is a month frequented by clear, blustery days. Just the other day, as the wind picked up the paper and other debris, I was reminded of a day in my youth, well over fifty years ago in San Antonio, Texas.
My family lived in a house in a new subdivision, that bordered on some old ranch or farmland that seemed to have been neglected for many years, where the Prickly Pear cacti, Spanish Dagger, Live Oak and Honey Mesquite had returned, growing over most of the landscape.
Our house was located on a corner lot, located on the border of the subdivision, called “Valley Hi”. To the east of the house was Lackland Air Force Base, which located west of the city of San Antonio. To the west of our house, was a field, beyond which was a six-lane highway that looped around the city. West of Loop 410, was the overgrown forest that was eventually to be developed into Phase 2 of the Valley Hi Housing development. With no apologies to composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II or to author James A. Michener, it seemed to me that the local Valley Hi Mall would constantly play, as background music for shoppers, the Soundtrack from stage play/movie South Pacific, including “Bali Hi.”
At this time of my life, my favorite activities included riding my bike, exploring the local overgrown woods, and on windy days, flying a kite. Often my mom would send me to the local ice house, the Texas equivalent of Ontario’s milk stores, to pick up any grocery items that she required for dinner that day. For my efforts, I was allowed to keep a dime or quarter of the change from the purchase, which I could use as I pleased. A penny would buy a stick of Double Bubble gum or two of Bazooka gum. Six cents would get me a Popsicle from a Cravy Ice Cream truck.
With a dime, I could purchase a comic book. While a quarter was the price of a copy of Mad Magazine or a kite kit. I chose the kite. Now you may wonder why not make my own? Well to construct a kite, you would need to have paper for the kite, wood (like that found on the side of orange crates), string, and glue to secure the seam of a loop around the kite’s perimeter, through which string would be threaded and attached to a wooden cross that secured the frame of the kite.
A large grocery bag and string could easily be procured, but the orange crate would be more difficult to obtain. And a small bottle of Elmer’s glue would cost 15 cents. If I saved up a dime more, I could purchase a complete kite kit, which included a small plastic piece that held the two wooden cross pieces together. I would have to save an additional 15 cents to buy a spool of 100 yards of twine or string for the kite. The kites sold by the ice house came in only one color, dark red.
The simple diamond kit could be assembled in five minutes, but I learned early on that the kite needed a tail, made of cloth for stability. Otherwise, the kite would circle in ever-larger cycles, until it dove into the ground. Mom kept a bag of rags, made from worn shirts and blouses, for cleaning jobs around the house and provided the ideal material needed to construct a tail for the kite.
My dad worked six days a week at two jobs to pay the bills, including the medical expenses for my sister, Rhona, who was confined to a wheelchair, after suffering from a spinal injury when she was just three years old. Sunday was our family day, where we would have an evening bar-b-que dinner. Dad would serve as master of the grill or the grill meister.
It was on a warm windy afternoon that dad had invited Malcolm, a co-worker over for dinner. Malcolm was a young man, about half dad’s age, but still, he was over twice my age. On that blustery day, in order to pass the time while waiting for the Mesquite charcoal to burn white, I had decided to fly my new kite which I had assembled the day before.
When Malcolm had arrived, my kite was airborne and I had played out about a third of the 100 yards of twine. The strong wind, from the east, had caused the kite to rise up only 10 yards above the ground. Usually, the weight of the string prevented you from using more than a spool before the kite would fall to the earth. But this was not the case on this windy Sunday afternoon. Soon, I had reached the end of the spool of twine, but I had another spool inside the house. Malcolm had sensed that this flight was unusual and agreed to take control of the string while I retrieved the other spool of twine and tied it to the first.
Dinner was served, and rather than reel in the kite, Malcolm, my dad, and I, each took turns manning the kite string, while the others ate. It was after supper, as we neared the end of the second spool that Malcolm offered to go to the ice house and purchase more twine, commenting that we might have the makings of a world record in the kite world. And so the third spool of twine was added, and the red kite seemed like a dot in the late afternoon sky. Eventually, Malcolm made two more trips to get more twine, making the total length of the five spools some 500 yards. The twine ran west from the backyard, over 200 yards of the field, the six lanes of the highway, and far over the woods that lay beyond, disappearing into the red setting sun. But, as the sunset, as often happens in that part of the country, the winds that chased the sun paused, as if to catch their breath, and suddenly the red kite, like the sun, fell down from sight, its four-hour flight had ended.
I realized that the kite was lost. It was dark, tomorrow was a school day, and by the time I came home in the afternoon of the next day, it would be difficult to find the remnants of the twine across the highway, as passing cars and trucks would have severed the string.
For a time, with the help of a stiff wind, the kite had overcome the force of gravity, the combined weight of five hundred yards of twine, and provided us with a flight to remember.
As a Christian, I believe that, in some respects, flying a kite is like faith in God. In part, our faith relies upon the invisible Holy Spirit to lift us, spiritually, towards God in Heaven. Both the wind and the Spirit are invisible and without form, but are capable of doing something supernatural, beyond nature.
The kite, by design, provides lift in the presence of the wind, overcoming gravity, and rising above the earth. The string provides, by way of tension, the resistance required to facilitate the upward lift for the kite. The tail provides stability to the kite while keeping it in a vertical orientation.
The Holy Spirit acts as the wind with the kite, enabling our faith to be lifted closer to God. The Bible, which is the Word of God, acts as the tail of the kite; keeping our faith stable and oriented towards Him. The string is like our belief in the Gospel of Christ and the truth in the Scriptures. All of these aspects of faith are necessary and work together to enable us to transcend the limitations of the world and climb towards that which is Spiritual.
After I wrote this message, I looked online for some graphics to illustrate today’s bulletin, when I post it on our BLOG. In my search, I found that several others had authored similar posts that compared flying a kite to some aspect of the Christian faith, though with mixed reactions from readers. Many of the negative responses included comments that comparing faith to flying a kite was to trivialize one’s faith in God and the Gospel of Christ. After all, there is no mention of kites in the Bible, or is there?
Well, yes and no. One of our Scripture verses, used in today’s lesson, does mention a kite; in Leviticus 11:13-19 (ESV):
Clean and Unclean Animals
13 “And these you shall detest among the birds;[a] they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle,[b] the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind, 16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.
But what kind of kite is described in Leviticus 14? We have three common definitions for a kite:
Kite kīt noun: kite; plural noun: kites
1. a toy consisting of a light frame with thin material stretched over it, flown in the wind at the end of a long string.
2. Sailing informal – a spinnaker or other high, light sail.
3. A medium to large long-winged bird of prey that typically has a forked tail and frequently soars on updrafts of air.
Kite, as used in this Scripture, is a bird that is unclean and not fit to eat. I do not think it likely to have a flying toy or part of the watercraft on the menu! That is why many readers object to us saying faith is like an unclean bird. Is the kite really unclean, as stated in the old Mosaic Laws? We find our answer in Mark 7:1-12(ESV):
Traditions and Commandments
7 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly,[a] holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.[b] And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.[c]) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)[d]— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Well if the Lord said that, spiritually speaking, we are not defined by what we eat, which makes kites no longer unclean, what is it that does make a person unclean? Let us continue reading Mark 7, Mark 7:14-21(ESV):
What Defiles a Person
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”[e] 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”[f] (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Footnotes: a. Mark 7:3 Greek unless they wash the hands with a fist, probably indicating a kind of ceremonial washing b. Mark 7:4 Greek unless they baptize; some manuscripts unless they purify themselves c. Mark 7:4 Some manuscripts omit and dining couches e. Mark 7:11 Or an offering f. Mark 7:15 Some manuscripts add verse 16: If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear g. Mark 7:19 Greek goes out into the latrine
But even though kite, the toy, is designed to imitate the bird having the same name, some continue to argue that we demean our belief in God by comparing our faith to an object that is just a toy and behaviour that is not serious. After all, we all understand the meaning of the phrase: “Go fly a kite!”
Go fly a kite! (mainly American informal) – something that you say in order to tell someone who is annoying you to go away Go fly a kite! It’s just not funny anymore.
But flying a kite is not a trivial pursuit. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin used a kite, an iron key, a thin metal wire, and a Leyden jar to confirm that lightning was static electricity.
Hargrave kites were used in the early 1900s to carry weather instruments aloft.
The Nares Life Kite was used to save sailors from stormy seas.
The Wright Brothers Flyer, the world’s first heavier-than-air craft was developed on a design based on a large kite that carried the first human aloft.
And the world’s first suspension bridge across Niagara Gorge began with a kite-flying contest.
The following kite article was posted on:
MEETING IN THE CLOUDS BLOG – by Angela (No Surname)
The Massive Bridge Started From A Kite String (Posted on June 27, 2014 )
Nearly 170 years ago, the mighty Niagara Falls, previously known only to the local Native Americans, was becoming the new tourism Mecca, but the only way to cross the imposing gorge was to go upstream and take a turbulent ride in a small ferry. A bridge spanning the gorge was envisioned to provide a highway over the gorge and allow commerce and people to pass more freely between Canada and the United States.
The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Company in Canada, and the International Bridge Company in USA were given the charter to build a bridge but leading engineers of Europe and North America quickly advised it could not be done.
Charles Ellet, Jr. was hired to construct the bridge. The building of a suspension bridge is commenced with stretching a line or wire across the stream. However, the turbulent roaring rapids, the 800-foot wide gap, and the 225-foot high sheer cliffs of the Whirlpool Gorge made a direct crossing impossible. Ellet and his colleagues held a dinner meeting at the Eagle Hotel in the Village of Niagara Falls, to brainstorm the problem. Ellet proposed the use of a rocket. A bombshell hurled by a cannon was also suggested. Local ironworker, Theodore G. Hulett suggested offering a cash prize to the first boy who could fly his kite to the opposite bank.
Ultimately the bridge engineer chose the idea inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s experiment with a kite. Organizing a kite-flying contest, he offered $5 to any boy who flew a kite across the gorge and secured the kite string to the other side. Youths from nearby towns flocked in to participate. 16-year-old Homan Walsh finally got his kite across the gorge and secured its line to a tree.
Using the kite line across the 800-foot chasm, Charles Ellet and his team tied a heavier line to the kite string and pulled the joined lines across. They pulled successive heavier and stronger lines across until the final bridge cable—7⁄8 inch thick—was hanging across the gorge.
He built a temporary suspension bridge as the first part of his plan. On January 31, 1848 the Buffalo Dailey Courier published this account; “We have this day joined the United States and Canada with a cord, and are making preparations to extend a foot bridge across by the first of June”
Not long after, Ellet left the project after a bitter financial dispute with the bridge companies. A three-year hiatus followed before the companies hired John Augustus Roebling to complete the project. Roebling used Ellet’s bridge as scaffolding to build the double-decked bridge. By 1854 his bridge was nearly complete, and the lower deck was opened for pedestrian and carriage travel. On March 18 1855, a fully laden passenger train drove across the upper deck at 5 miles per hour and officially opened the completed bridge. This massive structure started with a kite string.
So while flying a kite may seem like a trivial pursuit, serving no practical purpose, we see that having faith in God is viewed by unbelievers in the same light.
Ezekiel 10:8-22 (ESV)
8 The cherubim appeared to have the form of a human hand under their wings.
9 And I looked, and behold, there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub, and the appearance of the wheels was like sparkling beryl. 10 And as for their appearance, the four had the same likeness, as if a wheel were within a wheel. 11 When they went, they went in any of their four directions[a] without turning as they went, but in whatever direction the front wheel[b] faced, the others followed without turning as they went. 12 And their whole body, their rims, and their spokes, their wings,[c] and the wheels were full of eyes all around—the wheels that the four of them had. 13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing “the whirling wheels.” 14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
15 And the cherubim mounted up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the Chebar canal. 16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them. And when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them. 17 When they stood still, these stood still, and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures[d] was in them.
18 Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.
20 These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the Chebar canal; and I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces, and each four wings, and underneath their wings the likeness of human hands. 22 And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the Chebar canal. Each one of them went straight forward.
Footnotes: a. Ezekiel 10:11 Hebrew to their four sides b. Ezekiel 10:11 Hebrew the head c. Ezekiel 10:12 Or their whole body, their backs, their hands, and their wings e. Ezekiel 10:17 Or spirit of life
What does this passage, which describes a vision of a creature having the face of an eagle mean?
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Ezekiel 10:8-22
Ezekiel sees the working of Divine providence in the government of the lower world, and the affairs of it. When God is leaving a people in displeasure, angels above, and all events below, further his departure. The Spirit of life, the Spirit of God, directs all creatures, in heaven and on earth, so as to make them serve the Divine purpose. God removes by degrees from a provoking people; and, when ready to depart, would return to them, if they were a repenting, praying people. Let this warn sinners to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call on him while he is near, and cause us all to walk humbly and watchfully with our God.
Let us focus on one verse from the above passage:
The Spirit of life, the Spirit of God, directs all creatures, in heaven and on earth, so as to make them serve the Divine purpose.
If we accept Henry’s observation that the Spirit of God directs all creatures in heaven and on earth so that they serve the Divine, then kites being a creature of mostly the heavens is directed by the Spirit of God to serve the Divine, which is not a trivial existence.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #355: I’m Pressing on the Upward Way
Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.