I had the strangest dream the other night—in my dream, I was deeply affected by the movie Ghostbusters. I overheard in church that a Holy Ghost lurked in the Bible and became fanatical in my pursuit about studying everything I could about this Holy Ghost/Spirit apparition of breath, ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek. I dedicated my entire dream life to studying the Holy Spirit and was a world-renowned Pneumatologist.
One day, while still in my dream, I received a call:
“Is this the world’s renowned Pneumatologist?”
“Why, yes it is.”
I learned that on the other line was none other than Alfreda Hitchcock, the granddaughter of the Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock, the most famous director in my dream world. She needed my help. The next thing I knew I was in L.A., Santa Monica Boulevard (in my dream there was no traffic), and meeting face to face with Alfreda Hitchcock. I remember feeling intimidated as posters of blockbusters she directed decorated the wall.
She looked me in the eye:
“I want to direct a new movie.”
I had no idea how this would involve me.
“The name of the movie, Pentecost. The main character is the Holy Spirit. I want to bring to life what happened on Pentecost, but I don’t want the Holy Spirit to just arrive on scene like some creature from the black lagoon. I want the Sprit to really have character, essence, so people can relate to it.”
She asked, “When does the Holy Spirit first appear in the Bible?”
“Well, the very second verse: Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
And then I did what I should not have done, thinking I had a clue as to how to direct a movie—
“I got it—you can show glimpses of the Holy Spirit hovering over water. Then show a bit more of the Spirit when it rushes on to Saul, and David, and Elisha, and Elijah. Then, with music in the background (insert a Jaws like suspense music), show more of the Sprit when the Spirit brings bones back to life, like Spielberg does in Jaws so the audience anticipates the Holy Spirit. Finally…Boom! Reigning like FIRE on the day of Pentecost the audience sees in 3D computer graphic roto imagery, the Holy Spirit.”
Alfreda Hitchcock, the great director, did not seem as excited as I.
“So you want the Holy Spirit to be like a terrifying psycho great white shark and frighten people so they never venture into a church? And what, I market Pentecost Part Two with ‘Just when you thought it was safe to read your Bible…’”
Ah, she had a good point.
“Aren’t there examples when the Holy Spirit is more relatable, and pleasant? This isn’t meant to be a thriller, but motivational. A cinematic story so the audience comes away knowing that the Holy Spirit is an advocate, a helper, an inspiration. What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit?”
I responded, “Well, it depends. The Holy Spirit is the Breath of life. Sometimes the Spirit is a gentle breeze, sometimes a whirlwind with significant power.”
Alfreda spoke, “I need something people can relate to. Everyone likes a hero that comes north by northwest arriving on scene to save the day.”
I pondered, and then had an idea. “Well, you know Moses?”
She seemed perturbed. “Yes, I directed Charlton Preston in the spellbound blockbuster, Independence Day: Surging Waters. Remember?”
My oversight. “Oh yeah.” I needed to redeem myself.
“In the third book of the Bible, Numbers, we learn after that miracle which you brilliantly capture, the Israelites are complaining. Moses rescued the Israelites from the comfort of slavery into the heat of the Sinai. It is so bad they just want to go back to being slaves. They whine, ‘We want fish…cucumbers… melons. All we get now is manna. We hate manna! We detest manna!’ The people want to return to Egypt and serve Pharaoh. Nevertheless, prophetic Moses is trying to help them understand they have a new King—God. But the people don’t get it. They notoriously complain more. What does Moses do? He complains to God.
‘God, Why are you treating me this way? What did I ever do to you to deserve this? Did I conceive them? Was I their mother? So why dump the responsibility of this people on me? Why tell me to carry them around like a nursing mother, carry them all the way to the land you promised to their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people who are whining to me, ‘Give us meat; we want meat.’ I can’t do this by myself—it’s too much, all these people. If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. Dial M for Murder. Send the Birds. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here.’ (Adapted from The Message) God responds, telling Moses to round up 70 of the elders at the Tent of Meeting, the Spirit is then poured on them and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, they help Moses lead the Israelites.”
I think she understood.
“So the Spirit only came to leaders and prophets?”
I responded, “Yes, until the Prophet Joel had a dream. And the Spirit is sort of democratized and a Day of the Lord is predicted when the Holy Spirit will be outpoured on all—no age boundaries. No race boundaries. No gender boundaries. No financial status boundaries. And what does that mean? A time when the world will be in total chaos from the perspective of those in power who control, and the result will be global vertigo. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate equalizer. The words of Joel in his time, about pouring out the Spirit on every kind of people, are overwhelming even in our lifetime!”
Alfreda asked, “What does Jesus say about the Spirit?”
“Many people are familiar with John 3:16—God loved the world that Jesus was sent so those who believed would have eternal life—but that verse is a response to a story Jesus tells that is totally about the Holy Spirit. Jesus is being questioned by a Jewish leader, Nicodemus, about his identity, and Jesus responds that one has to first accept the ‘wind-hovering-over-water-creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life.’ When you look at a baby, it’s just that, a body you can touch, but the person who takes shape within the body is something you cannot see or touch—that’s the Sprit: the ruach, the pneuma, and it cannot be caught because it is like the wind. You hear it rustling the trees, but have no idea where it is headed next. It cannot be caught. It is an agent of new life by which we are reborn. And so when Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at a well, we learn that the Spirit is a gift of God, living water.”
Alfreda clarified, “So I hear that the Holy Spirit is wind, FIRE, and water?”
“Right! And Jesus is really big on calling the Holy Spirit a helper, a Paraclete, which literally means to call to one’s side. So when Jesus appears to the disciples hours after the Resurrection on Easter, he breathes on them and says, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ And before Jesus ascends to heaven, he directs his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for a promised gift—baptism of the Holy Spirit. And on the Jewish festival of Pentecost, fifty days after Passover, this is what happens:
Acts 2 (The Message)
2 1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force —no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
‘They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!’
12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: ‘What’s going on here?’
13 Others joked, ‘They’re drunk on cheap wine.’”
And then I woke up from my dream.
God the Father, God the Mother, God the Holy Spirit. What is our relationship with God the Holy Spirit, present at the beginning of Creation, present with Moses, present with the prophets, present with Jesus? The disciples. Was the day of Pentecost foretold by the prophet Joel? The holy wind, the FIRE at Pentecost is power into speech, it is the gift of divine speaking and human hearing of divine hearing and human speaking. The Holy Spirit is not only the way God speaks to us, reveals to us, but also the way we are enabled to speak to God. The Holy Spirit is that power, that gift of God, which makes it possible for us to be in loving conversation with God. That kind of power means the Holy Spirit can take on anyone, anything, anytime, anywhere.
Interesting that General Conference occurs with Pentecost smack in the middle.
The Spirit, or Ghost actually is the best theological term, must have a body. That body turns out to be called “church.” The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is a cosmic power that is the birth of the church. Born from above. Pentecost gives power to all to speak the languages of the world, to be God’s people on this earth. That Day of the Lord was a blockbuster event! The Holy Spirit is a gift we all receive. It brings us to life! Empowers us to speak truth to power. You are called to be God’s prophets. All of you. It’s not a dream. Take a deep breath.
Dare to receive.