One symbol for the Holy Spirit is a dove. We hear of the dove descending upon Jesus at his baptism, a sign of God’s affirmation of Jesus as the one who is empowered to speak and act on God’s behalf. The dove also represents peace, a sign of the flood’s ending and the ceasing of hostility between God and humans in the story of Noah.
Not many of us had birds land on us at our baptism, or have had a dove with an olive tree sprig fly to our windows when we need a resolution to an argument or a complicated decision. But we do have the gifts of the presence, inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit. They were given to us at our baptism and remain with us always – a promise that God continues to unfold in our lives. The Holy Spirit is our gift and the same power that Jesus promised the disciples. This gift and power begin for us in Luther’s understanding of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I cannot by my own understanding or effort believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with gifts, sanctified and keep me in true faith.” This is the grace and power of God at work in you – making a relationship with God possible. Knowing and believing that our God loves us, forgives us, heals us, takes joy in us and enlightens us to the life of God within us is the affirmation that we have been chosen to be people of God. This is the power for life and living.
You may ask, “Where can I see the Spirit in my life?” In much the same way as wind fills the sails of a ship – we can’t see the wind, but we can behold the effects in the billowed sails and the motion forward. The Spirit becomes the “wind beneath our wings” as we are encouraged to soar with the power of God’s love in our lives. Prayer, service, worship, reading God’s Word, forgiving others and seizing opportunities to tell of our faith in this gracious God are moments when we can believe and act on the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in our lives. Let the Holy Spirit make a difference in your life as you are empowered by the wind and the fire of God’s presence in you. Happy Pentecost.