May 15, 2023The Holy Spirit moving in our lives

The Holy Spirit moving in our lives

Kim Snodgrass One-minute read.   Resources
Photograph of a Dove sculpture on a Baptismal Font Cover at Calvary Episcopal Church, Sedalia, Missouri.
Dove on Baptismal Font Cover, Calvary Episcopal Church, Sedalia, Missouri. Image credit: Gary Allman

In Judaism, the Holy Spirit (Hebrew: רוח הקודש, ruach ha-kodesh) refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the universe or over God’s creatures. The Hebrew noun ruacḥ (רוח‎) can refer to “breath”, “wind”, or some invisible moving force (“spirit”). In Jewish tradition (Hagigah), although the Holy Spirit is often named instead of God (Deut. 31), it was conceived as being something distinct and among the ten things that were created on the first day.

In Greek, the word Paraclete (παράκλητος) means ‘advocate’ or ‘helper’. In Christianity, the term Paraclete most commonly refers to the Holy Spirit.

It is interesting how many ways the Holy Spirit is visualized, too. Symbols of the Holy Spirit – a dove, fire, oil, wind and water – are seen in passages from Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:30-34.

Often, the Spirit is also referred to using feminine pronouns, which can seem confusing at first glance. But if God is spirit as opposed to physical or material, if God is invisible and spirit (non-body) which is stated in John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17, and if no material thing was ever to be used to represent God in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:4), and if gender is an attribute of the body, then a spirit does not have gender. God, in God’s essence, has no gender.

Whichever way we choose to refer to God does not change God’s nature, and it is the same with the Holy Spirit. As long as we are in full understanding that the Holy Spirit is a person, a full and complete part of God, that is what matters.

The following prayer, Come, O Holy Spirit, by John Henry Newman might be meaningful to you …

Come, O Holy Spirit. Come as Holy Fire and burn in us, come as Holy Wind and cleanse us within, come as Holy Light and lead us in the darkness, come as Holy Truth and dispel our ignorance, come as Holy Power and enable our weakness, come as Holy Life and dwell in us. Convict us, convert us, consecrate us, until we are set free from the service of ourselves, to be your servants to the world. Amen.

John Henry Newman

Kim Snodgrass is Assistant to the Bishop for Christian Formation.

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