The feast of Pentecost celebrates the disciples’ experience of the Holy Spirit. A lot of people describe that moment as the birth of the Church. It’s a strange story full of images that are hard to imagine and ideas that are even harder to grasp. I wonder, sometimes, if we don’t over-complicate it, though, and if a normal use of the word ‘spirit’ wouldn’t cover what we mean. The Bible says that God ‘is love’, and perhaps that’s all we need to know about this awesome moment. God pours out the essence or spirit of himself upon a group of very unhappy men and women, and that changes everything for them.
One of the Resurrection stories tells of Jesus breathing on his disciples so that they can receive the Holy Spirit. You have to pretty close to someone to feel their breath, as close as a mother to her child or perhaps two lovers to one another. To get close to God, so close that you can ‘feel God’s breath’, is a powerful image of the intimacy that is at the heart of a message about God’s involvement in the world. God need not be a distant creator or a stern moral authority, but may be as close as the air we breathe, and with the gentleness of a breath able to pour His Spirit into us, filling us with love that drives out fear and helps us become the people we’re designed to be.
Spirit of God, as gentle as a breath of air, as powerful as a stormy wind, fill us and shape us today with Your love. Where we are afraid encourage, where weary refresh, where deflated fill us with the hope that love is at the heart of all things, and all things will come together in Your love. Amen.
The Prayer for the Day by Mark Wakelin broadcast on Radio 4 on 22 May 2010:
treat yourself to a copy of the PftD Volume 2 anthology (ISBN 978-1-78028-966-3)