There are lots of funny (both in the amusing and peculiar sense) ideas of what or who the Holy Spirit – or Holy Ghost in older versions of our Bibles and Services – is. Some I have spoken to actually seem to think that God seems to hang about wearing a bedsheet and floats over services and some people think that the Holy Spirit is a religious version of ‘Santa’s little helper’ who zips around the place helping people do good things.
But when the Bible talks about the Holy Spirit it means God. We talk about God as ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ not as three different Gods all trying to share a small house in heaven, but because it’s the only way our limited human words can describe someone who is bigger than our minds can ever grasp. When the writers of the Bible talked about the Holy Spirit they thought in terms of God being active in people’s lives and the only word they could think to use was ‘spirit’ – suggesting someone who you couldn’t see, but was still there.
At this time of the Church’s year, the season we call Pentecost, we remember that God is still active in people’s lives, and that when we are open to God he will actually make a difference in our lives. On the first day of the Church we read, in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, that God inspired people to speak in different languages and to share the excitement of the new life which Jesus offers – this was such an amazing experience for all concerned that three thousand people joined the Church on that one day. The writers described it as the Spirit of God being ‘poured out’ – that God was at work even though he couldn’t be seen.
Today we still believe that God is active in our lives, and on May 11th we will celebrate in our Churches the festival of Pentecost, to remind us that God’s Spirit, God Himself, is with us in all that we do, in everything we say, in every part of our lives. Jesus described the Spirit as a comforter, a companion, and said that God would inspire those who follow Him to be those that worship and live ‘in Spirit and in truth’. But in order for God to make a difference in our lives we have to be open to him, to listen to and follow the teachings of Jesus, and to be willing to change. I believe, and I have seen in my own life and in the lives of others, that God can do great things, may you know the touch of God’s Spirit this Pentecost time and always.