Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Originally, the word “inspired” meant to be filled with the Spirit.  The reason I capitalized the word “Spirit” is because inspired means to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  With that origin it is easy to see how “inspired” came to mean something that is extraordinarily good.  Theologian Paul Tillich defines “inspired” as God Present.  It is also understood as God’s breathe, or as an action word, God breathed.  Either way, it is also easy to see how wind has become a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

Another image used for the Holy Spirit is fire.  The Book of Acts tells the story of the Holy Spirit coming to the Apostles after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  It comes like tongues of fire.  The hat (or mitre) a bishop wears is deliberately shaped like a flame.  A fire is easily extinguished if we are able to deprive it of oxygen (air, wind, breath).  These two images for the Holy Spirit of wind and fire are powerful and go hand in hand.

I’ve heard it said that if we “take the Holy Spirit out of the church, 95% of what we are doing will continue.”  If God’s Holy Spirit only inspires 5% of what we do then maybe we need to forget about the 95%.  That number is probably way too high but the point is well made and well taken.  But, are we willing to hand over our Church to the Holy Spirit within us?

Celtic Christians used the wild goose as a symbol for the Holy Spirit.  It is a noisy, messy and bothersome bird.  The image of a wild goose, like the Holy Spirit, jars us out of our complacency and to a mission filled with the freshness and warmth associated with wind and fire.  If you want to set someone on fire, you have to burn a little bit yourself.

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