Today is Pentecost Sunday. Like many pastors my pastor spoke about the Holy Spirit today. She used texts from Genesis, Joel, Isaiah, Luke and Acts. The Holy Spirit pops all over the Bible. Yet, as she said, we wonder, Who the heck is the Holy Spirit? In some churches, the Holy Spirit seems to be in much more evidence than others. We might associate the Holy Spirit with healing, or inspired utterances, strange languages, or passionate singing. Others might think of the Holy Spirit active in works of social justice, compassion and service. For some, even the mention of the Holy Spirit brings to mind uncomfortable experiences in churches which have struggled with, Who the heck is the Holy Spirit?
Isaiah 45:15 talks about God as the God who hides himself. God is a mystery for the most part. God is not at our beck and call. God shows himself in ways he chooses to. We know God best and most fully in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit makes the truth of God in Jesus Christ known to us and our world. Genesis 1 says in the beginning the wind (or breath, or spirit) of God was acting on the face of the earth. Ruach is the Hebrew word that can be translated wind, or breath or spirit. Breathe in and out. Ruach. God is as close as that. When we fight over who the heck the Holy Spirit is, we limit God's Spirit. God is active all over the place, from the farmer growing the food we eat, to the person who prepares if for our plates to the one who cleans up. God is active in and through the church, too, but not only there. R. Paul Stevens insists we must cooperate with the God who loves us and seeks to humanize us. Where that is happening, there is the Spirit of God.