Friday, May 13, 2016

Veni Sanctus Spiritus

Waiting on the Holy Spirit-

I signed an email to a friend yesterday, with this phrase, “Waiting on the Holy Spirit” in reference to a bit of discernment that I am doing and my hope to get a nod from the Holy Spirit to help in my decision making…

I laughed as soon as I typed it because, in spite of my own theological belief that God is always present and it is our work to open our hearts and minds to God, I sometimes regress to the place of calling on God- as though I am dialing in a song request to the radio or placing an order at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through. 

Come Holy Spirit. 

Veni Sanctus Spiritus.  It is an ancient hymn that we sing (one of my favorite renditions- Jacques Berthier’s Taize version is linked at the beginning of this blog) and one way in which we call upon the Spirit to come to us.

It’s only fair that we think this way-  the biblical accounts of the Holy Spirit confirm the Spirit’s absence… and then… presence:  at the very moment of creation, the Holy Spirit comes and broods over the waters; at Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descends from Heaven as a dive bombing dove; at Pentecost the Spirit arrives in wind and tongues of fire, descending on the heads of the apostles.

But I prefer to think the the Holy Spirit is with us all of the time, and that the praying and waiting that we do when we sing or pray “Come Holy Spirit” is more about preparing our own hearts and opening our own eyes to the power of God around us all the time.  We need just to be open and receive.

The Holy Spirit is known to us as a Comforter, Advocate, as the “Lord of Life”, and the “Breath of God.”  I like to believe that it is the Holy Spirit that gives me the gumption to do difficult things when my own human sense of vulnerability might otherwise hold me back.

At Confirmation services, I have the distinct honor to lay hands on the heads of confirmands and bid the Holy Spirit, “come.”  Honestly, this is one of the more powerful things that I get to do as a bishop of the Church, acting as a “conduit” of the Spirit of God, flowing through me into the bodies and souls of the confirmands. It is a holy moment and an intimate experience as I connect soul to Spirit.

At the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, priests of the church ask, “We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the sacrament of the Body of Christ and his blood of the New Covenant.” (Holy Eucharist Prayer B) I always pause at this moment, inviting my own senses to catch up with the Spirit’s presence among us.

I wonder how you perceive the Spirit.  Is it as an empowering force?  A Comforter? As a teacher? (John 14:26)  Is the Spirit a sanctifying force in your life, making you holy and bonding your soul to God?

I often slip up when I pray at the beginning of my sermons and dedicate the time in the pulpit in the name of the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”  It’s a product of my early church training (1928 prayer book) but also, I think, a profound theological statement of the mysterious nature of God.  As much as I like to think of God as ever-accessible, ever-present and my strength- my crag and stronghold-  I like the bit of mystery that Holy Ghost retains.  After all, God is not like my best girlfriend with whom I can share a good laugh or cry over a glass of wine… God is my salvation and my eternal hope. There’s something mysterious, powerful and infinite about that , and for that, I am glad.

How are you and the Holy Spirit doing together?

Call Veni Sanctus Spiritus, and let your heart be opened.

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