“We pray for the Holy Spirit to come, and then, when she does, we want her to go home!”

That’s what a pastor friend of mine said in a large group conversation about the changing views in the Church around homosexuality, and all the recent stirred up trouble and pain and dicey discussions and risky decisions made by people of faith with deeply conflicting views.

Today is Pentecost, and many Christians are gettin’ their red on, and we are praying “Come, Holy Spirit.”

Because that’s what you do, on Pentecost.  You pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to come.

Check out this powerful ancient prayer: Veni Sancte Spiritus:

Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.
grant eternal joy.
grant the deliverance of salvation,

Come, father of the poor,
come, giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
nothing that is not harmful.

Cleanse that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled,
correct what goes astray.

Give to your faithful,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Grant the reward of virtue
grant the deliverance of salvation,
grant eternal joy.

Read it again.

Those are some serious petitions.

Now trying praying it.

I dare you.

Try really praying it.

“Cleanse that which is unclean, water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded. Bend that which is inflexible, fire that which is chilled, correct what goes astray…”

If I were Montoya, I’d be led to say, “I do not think the Holy Spirit means what you think She means.”

I heard it said recently, but for the life of me I can’t track it down, that whenever the Holy Spirit shows up in Scripture, change is in the air.

What you had presumed to be safe, isn’t.

The Holy Spirit isn’t safe.

Two weeks ago in church, a small child wandered up to the children’s sermon with a grin and a helmet on.  I was reminded of this quote by Annie Dillard:

Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? … Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return. Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 40-41.

There are a lot of people in the church these days reaching for helmets and life preservers and seatbelts for protection.

It’s dangerous, here, these days.

When you think about it, though, danger infuses something as necessary as driving in a car, as adventurous as hopping on a rocket, as fun an amusement park ride.

The necessary and the adventurous and the fun are all dangerous.

That’s sort of where we are in the church these days; a dangerous fusion of the necessary and the adventurous and the fun.

I think we are there, right in that dangerous intersection of the necessary and the adventurous and the fun, because I think that the Holy Spirit has heard us.

I think she’s come.

I think she’s stirring up trouble, knowing that we mistake placidness for faithfulness.

I think she’s setting us–and some of our sacred cows–on fire.

I think she’s birthing newness, and birth is never painless, never not messy.

I think she’s teaching us new words for a new culture.

I think she’s blowing a wind that is hurling all sorts of our idols through the air and out the door.

I do think she may have forgotten to supply us with helmets, but that’s a quibble.

Come, Holy Spirit.





Two brief matters:

First, here are two links to previous Pentecosty OMG blogs.  It’s been suggested that I link to previous pieces I’ve written on similar topics, so here goes:



Second, I apologize that there has been such a delay between the last post and this one.

A few matters have caused a delay: among them, I have a bug in my brain to introduce OMG readers to different Big Deal theologians.  Pastors “meet” these world-shakers and shapers in seminary but then have few occasions to get laity to get to know them too.  Because of some great questions that I’ve gotten post-Easter about the historicity of the resurrection, I’ve been brushing up on my Bultmann.  That’s taken some time and strong drink of the caffeinated and non-caffeinated variety.

Second, we’ve found out in the recent weeks that my mother’s cancer is fiercer than we wish.  We are not conceding the battle, of course, but therefore posts may be less frequent as we shore up our fortresses and fight the good fight.  For those of you new to OMG, you can learn a bit more about my mother here.

Come, Holy Spirit,

Cleanse that which is unclean,water that which is dry,heal that which is wounded.