Life Notes—May 26, 2011
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” John 14:25-26
Few things are more difficult for me to grasp than the Holy Ghost, also called the Holy Spirit. Actually, the Trinity is more baffling, but the Holy Ghost is an inseparable part of that confusion, so I tend to lump that triumvirate into one contiguous mass of puzzlement. Ghosts and spirits are, by nature, mysterious, so confusion is to be expected. Fear too, perhaps. So, who ya gonna call?
I am not a ghost buster, Holy or not. But I have pondered the role of the Holy Spirit, as described in scripture, as well as its presence and influence in my life. Still, my understanding is limited, at best. A few verses prior to the passage above, Jesus is talking to his disciples about what is going to happen to them after he dies. He is going away and, for a time, will not be with them; but the Father will send the Holy Ghost, also called the Spirit of truth, to live in those who believe in and continue to follow Jesus. In his desire to comfort his confused disciples, he may have confounded them further. I would be more than a little weirded-out if someone I loved deeply and had given my life to told me he was going to die and send a ghost to live with me!
The Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Ghost—is said to be three persons, or aspects of the same God, who is One. They are different ways in which God manifests. In the creation story, God the Father manifests and communes directly with Adam and Eve. Later, God manifests to Moses and others as a voice through inanimate objects. With the birth of Jesus, God the Son manifests as a human being. Since Jesus’ death, God the Holy Spirit manifests within us. The Holy Spirit is not part of us, per se, but a separate and distinct presence within and available to us. As we seek guidance or when we pray or when we sit in silence to feel God’s presence, God manifests as spirit—the Holy Spirit. There are many times in life I have known and felt that distinct and real presence. It is actually ghost-like: surreal, ethereal—comforting when I’m centered, unnerving when I’m not. It can send chills up my spine. When I’m quiet enough to listen and learn, it teaches, comforts and reassures. Just as Jesus said it would do. The Holy Ghost is how God manifests to us in our time, nearer than the air we breathe. It is how we know God as a real and living presence with us. And that is a ghost I can live with!
Tom’s sermon downtown this Sunday is titled, “Troubled and Afraid Hearts,” based on John 14:15-27. Life worship is at 9:40 in Brady Hall. Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Mitch’s sermon at the west campus is “Head in the Clouds,” based on Acts 1:1-11. Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:00 and 11:00.
Come home to church this Sunday. Now, who ya gonna call?
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator