When I was a child we would recite the Apostles’ Creed during worship. It referred to the Trinity as God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Ghost. At that time the cartoon, “Caspar, the Friendly Ghost”, was popular on television. When I said the words, the Holy Ghost, I thought of Caspar, a disembodied, floating being. Eventually the words were changed to Holy Spirit. That wasn’t much clearer to me.
Pentecost is the time in the life of the church when we celebrate Christ’s giving of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. The story of the first Christian Pentecost is found in Acts 2. Jewish
people were gathered in Jerusalem for the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost to remember the giving of the Torah, the Law. It was also a harvest festival. There were people there from many different countries, speaking in different languages. The Holy Spirit appears like tongues of flame above the disciples’ heads, there is the sound of a mighty, rushing wind and each person could understand what the disciples were saying in their own language. This was the coming of the Holy Spirit. Many believed the message of Jesus and became his followers. The Christian church was born.
Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit–the Advocate, the Guide, the Counselor–and he did. What does it mean to us to receive the Holy Spirit? In some congregations if a person “speaks in tongues” they are considered to be full of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our counselor, it gives us guidance and wisdom. It may be that still small voice that gives you direction or pricks your conscience or causes you to remember a scripture passage or hymn. It is the comforter that eases our pain and grief. The words used in Hebrew and Greek for Spirit are the same words used for breath. It is God’s breath (Spirit) that breathes into Adam and that covers the face of the earth at creation.
Imagine God breathing new life into you, filling your nostrils and lungs with life-giving breath. Think of God’s Holy Spirit filling St. John’s with new life and energy. Envision where the Holy Spirit is leading you, guiding you.
Sunday, May 15, is the day we will celebrate Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Three young people will receive the rite of confirmation. You are encouraged to come and accompany the confirmands as they share their faith. We will pray for the Holy Spirit to dwell in them and us.
Come, Holy Spirit, come, sweet giver of gifts.