This Sunday I take up pneumatology. Yay! Ok, I just had to use a big word. What we really will talk about is "Who is the Spirit?" Is it a thing a person, an entity? Is it collectively present, individually owned? Is it necessarily good or evil?
Why does this matter? The most careful of readings of the bible teach us that Jesus never talked about the third person of the trinity. The closest we get is Jesus use of the term "Parakletos" or paraclete which biblical translators have struggled with for years. Helper, advocate, intercessor? No one word captures the translation correctly. Hence a divinity school friend of mine noted that since there were no songs out there that used the word, he should devote his life to creating a whole song cycle about the paraclete. I vaguely remember a valiant first attempt was something about how when his beloved Chicago Bears win the Super Bowl they should thank the paraclete as well as their pair of cleats. (groan)
Still Luke, Paul and the other epistle writers will talk about a "Pneuma Hagion." The scriptures get excited about this Holy Spirit only after Jesus is no longer with us. This may be a clue as to what the Holy Spirit is, namely something essential about how God, or Christ or the Divine stays with us.
You may have heard me say this before: most of us have a favorite player in the trinity. I am a Holy Spirit Christian first and foremost. It's the part of the trinity that makes the most sense to me. God is just too big for me, and Jesus and the human/divine thing makes my head hurt. But the one present with us and connecting us? That's my experience. It may not be yours.
This Sunday you can come and hear me ponder the spirit in whimsical and serious ways and let me know if any of them ring true for you.
As they say in my Yoga class: "The Spirit in me greets the Spirit in you."