Today is Pentecost – our celebration of the Holy Spirit being poured out into all of creation! We first encounter the Holy Spirit at the very beginning of the Bible, in the creation narratives of Genesis, where we’re told of the sacred hovering [i] of God’s Spirit over all creation, and then also as God breathed [ii] life into the first of humanity. [iii]
Later in the Old Testament we read of how the Holy Spirit came upon certain people at certain times to do certain things: Gideon [iv] – for leadership/ Samson [v] – for strength/ Bezalel [vi] – for artistic work, and Isaiah [vii] – for prophecy. But it was still always only on certain people for certain specific purposes.
Then, in Joel, came the promise of the ‘new thing’ that God was going to do, the thing that was going to be for everyone and everything: ‘…all will know me’ [viii] / ‘I will put my Spirit in you [ix]’ / ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people [x]’
With the New Testament and the birth and ministry of Christ all this ramped up significantly: with all sorts of extra activity [xi]: …Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon, John the Baptist…
And then – 50 days after Easter, on this day we remember as “Pentecost” it happened!
Remember two weeks ago when we spoke about the Holy Spirit as the PARACLETE?
We spoke about how that Greek word is variously translated as the ‘Comforter’ ‘Friend’ ‘Advocate’ ‘Helper’ – but literally means the One called to be alongside! We stressed how it’s our awareness of that which brings us our greatest possible: Comfort/ Strength/ and hope!
This week, we are focussing on another aspect of what the Holy Spirit does– and maybe THIS is the most important one – teach!
I’m calling this the PEDAGOGICAL DYNAMIC OF THE TRINITY to describe that aspect of the Holy which impacts us primarily by redefining how we experience ourselves/ others/ and all creation…
I know how often we pray asking God for calm and peace, but I’m not sure that that’s always God’s plan for us. It seems that the Holy Spirit teaches us about ‘God-things’ most especially after we’ve been made to feel discontent! The Holy Spirit seems to like to unsettle us, makes us curious to question, to ask, to wrestle, not settle for easy answers, to WANT to know more… To grow!
We need that teaching. It’s like there are always these two realities in which we live: the false/small/ego-centric one we create & the infinitely more real, God-created one for which & into which we have been made to live! We all need to be sensitized/ blessed/ stretched/ challenged towards embracing this other, more real, better reality …because that’s what we are wired for – where our most real life really is!!!
We sing longing for it – praying for Spirit to stir us from our ignorant placidness,
O Wind on the Sea…
Unless we get to be touched/ impacted/ even discombobulated like that, we remain quite oblivious to God’s presence and would settle for so much LESS than the full/ rich/ just/ compassionate/ merciful life that God intends. That’s what Paul warns us against [xii], telling us never to allow ourselves to be defined by the standards of the world…
We pray for it every week: asking that God’s Kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven,
…but for us actually to embrace this other reality that the HS brings, well, that is scary..
WE FEAR IT! …and so we resist it!!!
That’s was HG Wells’ point in 1904 with his little story Country of the Blind? [xiii]
Our response to the Holy Spirit must be to worship, to be comforted in our hurts, to be empowered for life, to live into hope often despite our circumstances –– BUT ESPECIALLY – it is to OBEY! That’s what our text describes Jesus [xiv] as especially stressing – hear it again: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
It’s for us NOT to be like HG Wells’ scared Blind Citizens, so intimidated by the possibility of there being another way, a better way! It’s for us to own that THIS is NOT all there is to know about life and to become hungry for more!
The Holy Spirit of Pentecost is not just some commodity sent from God for us to gaze out at and perhaps draw from whenever we need topping up. INSTEAD, the Holy Spirit is God’s sacred influencing presence at work in us – yes comforting, strengthening – but primarily healing, changing us… The Holy Spirit is something we gaze out from, a force that changes us and influences how we see everyone and everything, including ourselves.
We, and all of this created in God’s name and image – because of Christ and what Christ has done – are infused with Holy Presence – and are all so achingly beautiful! WHERE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT/ UNDERSTAND THAT/ APPRECIATE THAT IT’S ALWAYS UP TO US – WITH GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT ALONGSIDE BOTH US AND THEM – TO TEACH THEM! How DO YOU BELIEVE WE ARE doing in this regard?
Rev. Robin Jacobson reserves all rights © 2019.
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[i] Genesis 1:2 (NEB)
[ii] Genesis 2:7 (NEB)
[iii] This ancient theme is currently being beautifully developed by modern theologians such as Diana Butler Bass ‘Grounded’ and Richard Rohr ‘Universal Christ’
[iv] Judges 6:14-16
[v] Judges 15:14,15
[vi] Exodus 31:1-5
[vii] Isaiah 61:1-3
[viii] Jeremiah 31:31-34
[ix] Ezekiel 36:26,27
[x] Joel 2:28,29
[xi]Luke 1:35, Luke 1:41, Luke 1:67, Luke 2:25-27, Luke 1:15
[xii] Romans 12:2
[xiv] John 14:26