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Reclaiming the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

Rev Kaye Ronalds. Photo: Holly Jewell

I find it difficult to write about the spirit of God, particularly as prose. My words want to dance into poetry and metaphors prance around the page. Gusts and breezes, breath and mist, intuition and wonder, hearts on fi re strangely warmed. My words will simply not behave! Settle down and form sentences.

The Scriptures suggest the Spirit was there at creation brooding over the chaos and then made episodic appearances in a bush that refused to burn, in a still small voice after a storm and as inspiration for the powerful, disturbing words of the prophets.

In the Christian Scriptures the Spirit impregnates a maiden, rests upon the head of Jesus at his baptism and sits with a child visiting a temple. It comes in fullness at a Jewish festival called Pentecost.

It turns out to be just as Jesus promised – a comforter that comes alongside us in life.

The Holy Spirit resists being defined in a theology class and may seem like an afterthought in conversations about the triune nature of God.

In the Old Testament, the Spirit is given the feminine gender and is more often discerned than defined.

It is the rich fragrance of God at work. I cannot imagine my life as a disciple of Christ without the Holy Spirit to enliven, encourage, empower, enable, enthuse and energise. At times I have been put off by the excesses of some of the wackiest Pentecostal preachers. Some use the same collection of psychological tricks that are effective even without reference to God or Christianity.

The work of the Spirit in our lives will not always feel comforting. It may be disturbing or even painful. In his book More Surprises of the Spirit, Uniting Church minister and founder of Barnabas Ministries, Rev Ross Kingham, reminds readers that: "The gospel reality of resurrection assures us that darkness and fire offer the possibility of transformation, and that our deepest encounters with the Spirit frequently occur in times of agony and disorientation."

He attributes to the Spirit invitations to stretch and grow, to stir us along, prompt, nudge and convict.

When I read Paul's letters to the church in Corinth two things become clear.

Firstly, the gifts of the Spirit are for the building up of the people of God and not for the benefit of the individual who exercises the gift.

Secondly, I am reminded that right after talking about the gifts of the Spirit, Paul reminds them of the kind of love they should share – kind, patient, humble love.

The Holy Spirit is an essential part of the equipment of a pilgrim disciple on the way.

Holy Spirit, burning fire, gentle dove come into our lives.

Rev Kaye Ronalds, Queensland Synod Moderator.

Photo : Rev Kaye Ronalds. Photo: Holly Jewell