So the Spirit is telling me, just start writing (or at least I think he is speaking to me),. Sooo, (Minnesotan for where do I start, or any of a number other meanings). So, isn't it interesting when you are asking the Holy Spirit for inspiration, he seems to be, well, a spirit in the true sense of the word. A ghost that you think is there, but you’re not sure.
People have been trying to describe the Spirit for centuries, actually from the beginning of time. Most recently, Deacon David Pierce described the Spirit as a Raven. Now I've never heard that one before but he made a good case for it. But let us start at the beginning.
Gen 1:1-2, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (King James Version). So, the Spirit was in the beginning. But this still doesn't describe the Holy Spirit. Other translations do try to describe it. The New American Bible (the one we use for the readings at Mass says, “a mighty wind swept over the waters”. The Living Bible says “the Spirit of God brooding over the dark vapors.” The New Revised Standard Version calls it “a wind from God.” My favorite is The Message, “God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.”
So, the Spirit of God is a wind, probably a mighty wind, maybe even a brooding bird (maybe Dave’s Raven). There so many descriptions and references to the Spirit in the Bible that I stopped counting early on.
So, I thought I’d concentrate on references to the Holy Spirit concerning Pentecost this coming Sunday. And there are many but to keep things short, there are two ways of approaching the Spirit – one, Christ’s foretelling of the Spirit to come, and second, when the Spirit actually does come.
Jesus makes several references to the Spirit, the Advocate, who he will send after the Ascension we celebrated this past Thursday. He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you an Advocate to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (Jn 14.16). So, we know that the Spirit is ‘truth’ and he will abide in us even if we do not see him.
In another place, Jesus says, “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” So, the Holy Spirit is a teacher and our helper. That is comforting to know.
Then there is the experience of the Christ’s disciples when the Holy Spirit descends on them at Pentecost. Acts 2:1-3. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” (NRSV) Again we hear the Spirit described as a violent wind, but now also as tongues of fire.
So, now we have heard of the Spirit described in a number of ways – as a mighty wind, a violent wind, the Spirit of God, a brooding Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, The Advocate, the teacher, the helper, as tongues of fire, and of course Dave’s Raven, and don’t forget the Holy Spirit as a dove at Jesus’ Baptism. All examples of descriptions, and yet something that is indescribable, something that we find hard to picture, something that we may or may not feel. But the Holy Spirit is real because the Bible says so, Jesus says so, because I have felt him. I have felt him strongly, but that is a story for another time.
So, where are you Spirit? You said to write and so I did. I know you were with me.
May the Spirit be with you.
Deacon Greg Beckel