Thursday, May 28, 2009

Penetcost, Church and the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the wind, the breath of God. It is the movement over the waters in the Old Testament and leads Jesus into the wilderness in the New. The Church marks its birthday with tongues of fire, when the Spirit moved among the early believers. It is headwaters and flowing stream of life. Yet, we think of it as strange, a power out of the ordinary. In the last article of the Nicene creed deals with the Church universal, and it comes after the article on the Holy Spirit. This is as it should be as the Church comes out of the Spirit's manifestation. The Church is under the authority of Jesus in worship of the Father, and empowered by the moving of the Spirit.

I had a professor at Fuller that use to make us call the Holy Spirit the Holy Breath. Why? I think he wants us to think of it less as a mysterious enigmatic force and more movement common to life. The movement of life starts with birth and it is as common as spring flowers. It is we who make it about feelings and experiences. Ruah unfolds before our eyes as we look for the extraordinary. When the Ruah does breathe into our world, things do change. It is not surprising that the fight against the Slave Trade in England was waged by people in the glow of a Holy Spirit movement. Nor is it surprising that the push to abolition of Slavery in this country came on the heels of the Second Great Awakening. The Holy Spirit moves us beyond our culture into community. During the Asuza Street revival, it was common to see women, men, black and white all worshiping together, a rarity in those days. Many critics of the revival pointed to this breakdown in social boundaries as reason why it was so dangerous. Holy Sprit is dangerous, because it breathes life back into the lifeless. It makes the dead alive, and makes the live move.

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