The Spirit and Dry Bones

Each week, I take some time to reflect on one of the lectionary passages for the upcoming Sunday. This week for Pentecost Sunday we'll be looking at Acts 2:1-21—because picking any other passage for this week would seem like a copout—and Ezekiel 37:1-14.

I still never know quite what to do with the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Spirit is part of the Trinity and thus God. Yet we never really talked about the Third Person that much growing up. The Holy Spirit would get a shoutout every once in a while, but it was mainly like that cool aunt that lived on the West Coast and showed up every other Christmas. You don't really know her, but the rest of the family seems to like her.

I read scripture, especially Luke and Acts, and the fingerprints of the Spirit are all over the place. But the Spirit always seemed sort of intangible. Everything about it from the tongues of fire to the often-used named Holy Ghost seemed kind of wooooo-ooooooooh (feel free to wave your hands in a spooky way when you read that).

I'm stalling because, again, I still do not know what to do. Yet I read the story of Pentecost and it is very clear that my initial feelings about the Spirit do not reflect the apostles' reality. The Spirit is not like some distant relative, but one who is quite near. The Spirit is not just a disembodied ghost, but works in quite tangible ways.

The Spirit brings life. That is what God does to the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision. God calls upon the four winds and they bring life to that which was formerly dead. A violent wind rushed through the place where the disciples had gathered and it lit up there entire world. They left that place speaking with a boldness and, in a miracle, thousands found life that day. It is the breath of God, the wind of God, the Spirit of God that gives us life. The resurrection theme of Easter resounds through Pentecost. God is an artist of resurrection.

These bones cry out
These dry bones cry for you
To live and move
'Cause only You can raise the dead
Can lift my head up
-"Dry Bones" by Gungor

I do not always know what to do with the Spirit. Yet the fact that the Third Person of the Trinity brings life is something that excites me. Because I need life. We all need life. There is so much in our world that is dead: our lives, our churches, our communities, our relationships. They are dry bones scattered upon the earth. And God is the only one who can raise the dead.

The Spirit is not something that I always understand. It is mysterious. It is odd. Sometimes it seems far-fetched. Of course, resurrection always does seem to be a fairy tale until the dry bones dance in front of you. Yet we worship the God whose Spirit does indeed give us life. That is all I have. I may not figure it out. Today that is enough.

Owning Our Hypocrisy