Pentecost, May 20
Acts 2:1-21 or Ezek. 37:1-14 • Ps. 104:24-35, 37
Rom. 8:22-27 or Acts 2:1-21 • John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of God, all God, and nothing but God. Like the Triune Life of which the Spirit is both a person and divine essence, the Holy Spirit is imparted to the church as oneness and manifold-oneness. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1). “There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father of all” (BCP, p. 299). “The Church is one, because it is one Body, under one Head, our Lord Jesus Christ” (BCP, p. 854). The Church is gathered together in one place as one body under one head. That place may be anywhere, but it is one place. The One Spirit has fallen upon the whole Church and created a new humanity.
In a sense, the one holy catholic and apostolic Church is also many because the Holy Spirit preserves and sanctifies each person in absolute uniqueness. This is evidenced, in part, by the reference to a gust of wind divided as tongues of fire resting upon the disciples and their speaking in the native languages of those who had come from distant places to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Persons have gifts that then reach other persons in a way they can understand. The Spirit inspires personal visions and calls forth dreams; he gives life to prophesy and shows the world himself as a sign of God’s coming. A dark sun and a blood moon, fire and smoky mist — the haunt of murky night — speak the Spirit’s presence to persons.
The Spirit of God is breath upon the slain, life from the dead, dry bones connected by sinew, flesh upon bone, skin over flesh, and breath from the mouth of God to the lungs of humanity. The Spirit raises the whole house of Israel, and the Spirit gives life to the one holy Church. Again, the Spirit makes one house of Israel, one holy Church, and yet bones and sinew and flesh and skin and breath are the building blocks of persons. The Spirit comes to persons as the indwelling God. This pertains of course to the “seven-fold gifts of the Spirit” described by the prophet Isaiah and it pertains to the “gifts of the Spirit” described by St. Paul, but it also and most importantly refers to a complete and total gift of God.
The Spirit is God and we are temples of God. The first theologian to write a full treatise on the Holy Spirit, Basil the Great, makes just this point. “The Spirit is shared without loss of ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of a sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone on him alone, and yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air. … Just as when a sunbeam falls on bright and transparent bodies, they themselves become brilliant too, and shed forth a fresh brightness form themselves, so souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their graces to others” (On the Spirit, cap. ix).
We who have received the Spirit wait and groan not because God has held back. We wait and groan because we are limited in our capacity to receive what God gives. Still, God is giving, and by giving and purging, God expands and makes a magnified soul until the soul is bright with the fullness of God.
I know what you want. You want God.
Look it Up
Read John 16:7.
Think About It
God is your advantage.