The Holy Spirit is the person in the Trinity that is the hardest to explain. We understand who God is – God created the heavens and the earth, God led the people out of slavery and into the Promised Land, and God sent the Son, Jesus, into the world. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity has four Gospels describing his life, ministry, death and resurrection and so we know Jesus very well. But the Spirit is elusive almost by design. The Spirit is always there - hovering over the waters, flying like a dove, dwelling in our hearts but seems to work best in the background.
There is a moment in the book of Acts where the Spirit is front and center – Pentecost. In the second chapter of Acts we hear about the moment when the Spirit is given as a gift to the disciples. Jesus promised that he would send a helper to his followers. Jesus said, “‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (John 14:15-17) The Greek word for the Spirit here is parakletos, which means comforter, counselor, or advocate.
And so in Acts 2 the Spirit arrives with violent winds and tongues of fire! “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1-4)
This Sunday is the day we remember this moment of Pentecost. We sing hymns and songs about the Spirit, we pray asking for the Spirit’s help and guidance, and some people like to wear red this Sunday to symbolize the tongues of flame. These are all wonderful ways to worship and celebrate Pentecost , however, remember that this is not just a historical event we are marking, but that we too receive this gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is promised to us as well and we have the Spirit dwelling inside us, guiding our ways, and inspiring our work and mission. So when you think about Pentecost you can imagine a flame hovering over your own head, wind whipping around you, and being filled with new power and gifts.