"The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you.” (John 12:26) Jesus teaching his disciples; he is preparing them for his departure, his death. This is our Lord’s promise of the Holy Spirit.
During our family's recent holiday, I focused my daily Bible reading on the Sprit/Holy Spirit. Specifically Genesis, the minor prophets, the gospel of John, Acts and Paul's letter to the Romans.
The description of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is clear, consistent, constant and concise through these books of the Bible. On the last Sunday before our holiday, Pentecost Sunday, I came across the statement of symbols of the Spirit. Fire - power (Act 2:3); breath - life (John 20:22); and descending dove – love. (John 1:32) These are not all the symbols of the Holy Spirit. This stirred with me, yet again, one of my favourite topics in our Christian faith: the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit in our faith language and understanding is part of the Trinity, the third person of God, Father (Parent), Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit: God in three persons. One God – the Spirit part – is both fascinating, mysterious and awe inspiring to me. I read anything written about the Spirit and I cannot get enough. When people write or talk about their Spirit-inspired experiences, it brings out the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12: 1-11) and fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23).
There is power, there is life, there is love and much, much more. Our own personal stories connect and makes sense for us. But, always in awe and a great sense of peace transcending our being.
Genesis mentions the active presence of the Spirit in its very first words: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (Genesis 1: 1-2).
In Joel, God says: "I will pour out my Spirit on all people, in those days". (Joel 2:28)
In Haggai, God says: "And my Spirit remains among you", and also "the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets". (Zechariah 7:12)
In Zechariah, God says: "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit". (Zechariah 4:6)
"Those going to the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land." (Zechariah 6:8)
In John's gospel, John the Baptist gave testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him". (John 1:32)
The same event recorded in Matthew's gospel adds: and a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased". (Matthew 3:17)
Oh, how my soul rejoices, inspired and stirred by the word of God. The teachings on the Spirit, the works of the Spirit fill and move my heart and soul. My head reels as I sense the presence of God over me. My yearning to be filled and to be more aware more of the Spirit helps me appreciate my surroundings in sunny Rarotonga. I see life and beauty in this wonderful island. The awe and splendour of the word hovers over the place.
I recall a sermon at a recent ecumenical service in Auckland where the preacher said: "I am not sure whether the Spirit was leading Jesus (Matthew 4:1) or whether Jesus was leading the Spirit (John 14: 16-17). "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth".
What mysterious words of God. The Triune God at work in history and in life, to give life for all creation.
The final Biblical references for this Pentecostal season message is Acts 2 where the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost.
The Jewish festival of Pentecost, one of the three main festivals in their country's calendar, alongside Passover and Dedication of the Temple. For Christians, Pentecost has become a major day in our Christian calendar. It is recalled, remembered and celebrated as the day the Holy Spirit came down. "Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2: 1-4)
Paul writes in the letter to the Church in Corinthians: "Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God". (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Finally, for now, dear brothers and sisters, let us journey on believing and trusting that the Holy Spirit watches over our going out and our coming each day.
Let us be confident that the Holy Spirit is all that Scripture teaches us, and even more. There is power, life, love, cleansing, peace, joy, justice, reconciliation, truth, courage, steadfast and on and on. The Spirit moves.
Let us be aware of our God given gift from the Holy Spirit. And understand the fruits that are borne in our lives by the Spirit. Learn about your gifts. Appreciate the fruits you bear in Christ.
Be inspired at what the Bible records of the Spirit's work, presence and manifestation. It is new every morning. It is constant from generation to generation. It is God's presence in our world.
Be encouraged to share, live out your life's experience in the Spirit. For surely, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Paul writes (Romans 14:17) "The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".
Come Holy Spirit, come upon your people and bless us with your presence. Use our lives for God's glory. Help us O Spirit, to accept and to follow Jesus, and to move closer day by day.
Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio
Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand