The gift of the Holy Spirit (and the gifts of the Holy Spirit)

Come, Lord Jesus. Send us your Spirit. Renew the face of the Earth.

When you pray, do you pray to the Holy Spirit?

Today is Pentecost. It is a giving of a gift, an Advocate, by Jesus to those he was about to leave behind. It’s almost as though Jesus was saying, “Ok, Holy Spirit… you got it from here…”

Yet this Holy Spirit was also there before Jesus as our Creed notes: “He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

The Holy Spirit helped create Jesus… yet was also a gift that Jesus gave to his followers. Such is the mystery of the Trinity.

Speaking of the Trinity, I myself find it easiest to pray to Jesus. We have the Gospel stories about him, we have visual artistic depictions about his life from paintings and even movies, and we know that he took our form and so it’s not difficult to envision to whom we are praying. Sometimes I pray to the Father as he is the Creator God and I can, though a little less easily, envision what God is like. The Holy Spirit, however, is more difficult. We are told that the Holy Spirit is like a dove, a flame, a strong driven wind… or even a breath of air. Personally, I have a harder time with this. How do you pray to a bird? Or fire?

Our scripture today is full of this imagery. Full of stories about this coming of the Holy Spirit. There are tongues of fire, there’s the strong wind, there’s the emboldenment of the disciples that allowed them to go live great lives of faith and courage all destined to transform the world. To transform the world!

Such was their assignment…

When I think of this Holy Spirit, I feel as though I can personally transform the world. I feel as though this fire that comes up into my heart will propel me to do great work for the Lord. This is the Holy Spirit I want in my life. With this Holy Spirit, I can do anything. This makes me feel charged up. After all, I am fueled by fire and wind baby.

However…

In the Letter to the Galatians, Paul talks of this in a far more subdued or, dare I say, subtle manner. He speaks simply of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, these being: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (GAL 5:16-25)

Nine special gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I bring all this up because sometimes we talk about Pentecost in terms of the rising up of our Church in history and its role in the salvation story. Fire and strong wind imagery gives us the sense that we must evangelize and transform the world through acts of greatness, courage and boldness. We can imagine that praying to the Holy Spirit means praying for these great and dramatic gifts.

Well, that’s all true… but I think that we are also called to change the world in a more subdued and, dare I say, subtle manner. And that is by simply demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in the manner in which we live our lives.

Perhaps the best way to pray to the Holy Spirit is not to ask for our hearts to be filled with fire or to be lifted up upon a great and strong wind, but rather to ask for the Holy Spirit to give to us these gifts that Jesus wanted us to have. These nine special gifts.

Come, Lord Jesus. Send us your Spirit. Renew the face of the Earth. Fill our hearts with your gifts. Transform us so that we, in turn, can transform the world.

Some of us are meant to charge up the hill on winds of fire.

All of us are meant to do something that only seems more subdued, even subtle… to simply love, to be kind and gentle, and to embrace a life marked by peace.

One comment

  1. I know it will sound odd but when I say my morning prayers I always pray to Jesus (except) when I ask the Holy Spirit to come into my daughter and give her the strength to see a better path for her life. I think I do that because when the Holy Spirit entered the apostles they were filled with confidence to go to the corners of the earth and preach Gods words.

    Liked by 1 person

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