Scripture Reading: John 20:19-23
[This is the Gospel reading for Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020]
The early Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit ‘the wild goose.’ And the reason why is they knew that you cannot tame him ― John Elderidge
[2.5 minute read]
Nadia Bolz–Weber is an ordained Lutheran Pastor, founder of House for All Sinners & Saints in Denver, and something of a public theologian. She tells about a Holy Spirit moment at All Sinners a few years ago. “A local Lutheran church gifted House for All Sinners and Saints a full set of used paraments. My church is like every other church’s little sister, so we get a lot of hand-me-downs. As a group of us went through these beautiful altar cloths, we came finally to the red set and found one with an image of a descending dove with completely crazy eyes and claws that looked like talons. Yep. It was as though the Holy Spirit was a raptor.
“ʻMan,’ someone said. ‘We can’t use this one. It makes the Holy Spirit look dangerous.’”
Well … immediately when the Holy Spirit began to move at Pentecost, people start to believe in Jesus. And miracles happened. And then Stephen was murdered. Others were imprisoned. Paul and Silas were flogged and thrown into jail. Others were arrested. Eventually, most of the apostles died due to unnatural causes.
So, yeah, the Holy Spirit would seem to be dangerous. Following the guidance of the Spirit might make us uncomfortable.
Yet, the Holy Spirit is much more. One of the Greek words used to identify the Holy Spirit is παράκλητος (paracletos). It is a compound word bringing together “para” and “kalein.” These two parts mean “beside” and “to call.”
The Holy Spirit is one who is called to “come alongside” of us and to be this guiding presence at all times.
The word is rich in its meaning with subtle variations and nuances. This is why παράκλητος is sometimes translated Comforter (alongside to provide courage, empathy, support); Advocate (alongside to represent and advocate for us); Counsellor (alongside to provide wisdom and knowledge) and Helper (alongside to provide assistance).
In any case, as we observe Pentecost Sunday, let us be aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. To live out our mission, we must turn to God through the Holy Spirit for our wisdom and strength. —Timothy Merrill