This essay is more like a preaching sermon. Where I grew up, there were teachers, and then there were preachers. I liked both, but this one rolls out a bit more like a preaching than a teaching. When i start meditating on the identity of The Holy Spirit, it just has to become either a poem or a sermon–so bare with me, i have had a heritage of itinerant preachers in both sides of my family. Fun writing and really dwelling with The Holy Spirit in the process though! Hope it blesses you with an even deeper friendship with His Holy Spirit. Maybe image this as oral–as if spoken on the wind of a breezy evening.
“The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire”. John the baptist
We hear this sermon, just before John baptizes Jesus. He is speaking to the religious leaders, who seem to have come to capture him. And this passage comes just after He tells the crowds that “… after me comes one who is more powerful than I…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” He is contrasting His own ministry with Jesus’ which was about to commence. A new type of baptism is being forecasted here!
In many ways, each of us is in the position of John the baptist–we are pointers towards The One Jesus. John was already critiquing the religious leaders of his day, and calling for repentance and confession of sins. That was the preparation for Jesus ministry. John baptized with water; Jesus, with The Holy Spirit. John’s baptism was in preparation for the salvation baptism of Christ. God was teaching what prepares the way for His Son–confession and a heart of repentance.
Jesus, upon coming up out of the waters of John’s baptism, sees the heavens open, and the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove, then hears a Voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This is a Trinity in-tandem moment in scriptures. You have the Father talking about His Son, and you see The Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus. And this was at the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.
Going back to John’s ax warning. It feels true internally as well. Whatever is not bearing real spiritual fruit, needs to just be chopped at the roots; and I believe that God can do that. If something is growing in me, which is not bearing good fruit, why not take an ax to it. Even our notions of who God is, and our dim or obscured sight of His Holy Spirit. Please do God.
Gabriel told Mary, that The Holy Spirit would come upon her, and she would conceive The Christ. The Holy Spirit here, is the active agent of conception, penetrating the physical realm and conceiving something spiritual. That is one aspect of The Spirit’s ministry–to enter the physical and make things spiritual.In this case, He conceived something that was fully spiritual and physical–it had never been done, and hasn’t sense!
The Holy Spirit is also the One seen in the second verse of the Bible, as hovering over the water’s of earth. There was this proximity to the physical, and ability to help Order it, govern it, sustain it, and renew it. The Spirit brings order into The Father’s creation, and is its governing principle and force. God manifest in and on earth. The Spirit proves this. The Father is not just “over there”, but very much here! God’s interface Agent is The Holy Spirit. God who is Spirit, sends His Holy Spirit to search, know and guide His physical creation–including the earth. For you see that there were no humans yet, in Gen 1:2. It was the earth itself, The Spirit was bringing The Father’s Order into.
One OT word for spirit is ruach or breath, wind, air; in the NT it becomes, pneuma which also signifies breath, wind, air, strength. You start to see this image of The Spirit passing over The Father’s vocal chords and making sound vibrations of His Thoughts. And you see in this Genesis passage, the result-things start manifesting into God’s exact idea!
The thought of The Holy Spirit hovering over the earth’s waters, before humans existed, allows you to meditate on what it looked like with God before we were here. You just suddenly see Him creating with The Trinity before time–that is the start of the Bible! But you also then get a glimpse of the nature of the relationship between the Trinity personalities. And you get this glimpse without the interruption of the human story. So you can see what they were like together before they were just up to solving our sin problems etc. Eden is another such glimpse, but that with humans. The parts before sin entered is closer to the original creation moment I think. God appears to have actually walked around in that garden! So there was less distance, and perhaps the Holy Spirit also had a different role then in relating to humans. For once we sinned, it seems like The Father could not dwell with us in the same way as before. But this meditation is for another day. Still interesting, though.
It is the gusto, hutzpah, and verve of the Holy Spirit to make God known in an electrically tangible way to humanity. His Felt Presence is audacious on the part of God The Father, and another sign of His intense desire to be in an actually living relationship with humanity. He frictions His way in as lightning suddenly illuminates, and The Holy Spirit is like this lightning in our spirits, and in the universe as a whole.
This Spirit hovers over our dark and undistinguished waters, and makes form, and in the vibration of the Father’s Voice into being, suddenly the order of the earth erupts into distinction, definition, specificity–in short, identity. That is the life of The Holy spirit. It is not just the firey tongues at Pentecost, it is, as well, this One hovering before we existed, over the setting for our drama.
This is the electricity of The Father touching the waters of humanity. That is this one Holy Spirit. This is the breath rolling over The Father’s vocal chords and sounding them into shape. We love this one, because of His sheer vivacity and verve of being in continuously sustaining all things at a being level! And maintaining this ordering principle in the universe.
This is the active agent of the laws of nature even. This is the enforcer and upholder, maintainer and renewer, and He was from the beginning. (Genesis 1:2) The Holy spirit is the one who makes God manifest and knowable to us all, and this is why we are not to blaspheme Him. It is the One who comes to make God known and give us all self insight and understanding, and to guide us into all truth. The fact that Jesus would even tell His friends that He should send the spirit is a clear testimony of the audacity of The Father’s counted love for humanity.
The Spirit coming reveals the audacity of The Father’s continued passion for humanity, just as Jesus’ life was a clarion call to pay arresting attention to God’s ravishing love for us. We cannot ignore the Holy Spirit’s presence, anymore than we can ignore that we breath! This is the Breath Itself of God Himself. We would do well to tear off religion from our eyes in beholding this sent One, and His faithful firey service to The Father! Here are the waves, wind, and song of God entering us tactically, tangibly-this is physical presence of the Most High touching our very skin. The stones and bones themselves rise up in Him for, by this Spirit, Jesus was raised from the dead, and earlier in His journey on earth, called into public ministry, and even conceived in the womb. We would do well to pay rapt attention to this Holy Spirit!
This One hovering over the waters at the beginning, who impregnates Mary, and settles down on Jesus as He comes forth from His baptismal waters, this One is the one we were promised to be filled with, guided by, comforted within, instructed into all truths. This one is obviously a true friend, and an ecstatic lover of mankind. We must enter in, and allow Him to become within us, our most trusted voice.
Gabriel the angel, tells Mary, when she asked how she would conceive the Christ, that this Spirit would come upon her, and she would conceive the God/man child. This Spirit impregnated the natural with the supernatural Saviour of all mankind. That is more than a miracle; it is a crossing over of universes accomplished by One Being–this Holy Spirit! He was the agent of the birthing of Jesus. That again is enough to desire to be baptized into The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. To enter into this pregnancy of being, this re-birthing process. By this same Spirit we too are born, resurrected, and brought to know face to face God. Here is the highway into true Being.
The highway burning into our being from God’s, is The Holy Spirit. Forget religion, this is the metaphysical One way into the very center of both Christ’s Being, and The Father’s, and perforce, your own. This One is our way home, who daily, actively comes and enters in and impregnates us again with The Life of The Most High God. We do well to honor this coming vessel into our hearts and beings, until we are kin with Jesus. Until this Kindred Friend makes us fully like Christ–brothers and sisters of Christ and children of His Father like Him! This is our hope, and The Spirit always brings Life, Hope, Joy and all the myriad of the Fruits of God’s Being. Where the Spirit is there is True Freedom. Freedom is to be as God intended us to be, and to dwell in that Sabbath of Being, that resting into our essential knowing of ourselves in and through Christ Jesus our Precious Saviour.
The Holy Spirit makes that experience real to us in ever progressive ways. We will one day not see in part, but we will be face to Face–see as we Seen by The Father; love as we are Loved. God is making all things His, consuming all being into His True Order. He symbolized this at the birthing of the earth, and The One Hovering over those waters, is also hovering over our waters today, and He can divide what is true from false, and name and call forth all that we truly are in Him. We surrender into that eternal Yes, and join the work of This Holy Spirit who thrust us and tenderly comforts us into our eternal wardrobe. Thank God He sent this Spirit into us, to touch us, and make us known even to ourselves; may This One hover and incarnate and impregnate our beings forever. Amen.