2017-07-13 / Faith

Bones, wind and new life in the Holy Spirit

Sally Carpenter

The California Museum of Natural Science once screened a 3-D Imax film of images captured by the Hubble telescope in deep space.

I saw galaxies inside of galaxies inside of more galaxies, like an endless stacking doll. Numerous stars and cosmic formations filled the screen. The edges of known space stretched to infinity and beyond.

When I walked out of the cinema, I felt my head would explode in trying to process the incredible pictures.

Attempting to describe God is like that.

For centuries, theologians have tried to explain the Trinity, the doctrine that God is one being expressed in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God and Jesus get most of the attention, and the Spirit rarely gets mentioned.

Rather than getting into the mechanics of how God works, in this series we’ll focus on what the Spirit has done and is doing.

The Spirit has been around since time began and God created the universe: “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” (Genesis 1:2 NIV).

Another translation reads, “with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters” (NABRE).

Both versions are correct. The Hebrew word ruah used in the passage can mean “spirit or breath of God.” Throughout the Bible, “breath” and “wind” are often used to represent God’s power.

The Spirit gives life where death reigns. When God created humans, “The Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 NABRE).

Artists have made lifelike statues from stone, wood, clay and metal, but artwork lacks the “breath of life” and remains inanimate.

Job realized this when he said, “The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4 NIV).

The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of a large valley filled with human bones representing the Israelites who lived in exile and had given up hope of seeing their homeland again.

God spoke, and the bones joined together to make skeletons. Then muscles and skin covered them. But they were just bodies.

God told the prophet to say, “From the four winds come, O breath, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life” (Ezekiel 37:9b NABRE).

The Spirit animated the bodies and they stood up.

God said to the new people, “I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life” (Ezekiel 37:14a).

Centuries later the Spirit continued to give life; the Gospel of Luke opens with two miraculous pregnancies.

Zechariah and Elizabeth are aging but have no children. An angel appeared to Zechariah and informed him that he and his wife would soon have a special son: “He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15b). The child was John, who would later baptize Jesus.

Six months later, the angel Gabriel visited Mary. When Gabriel told Mary she would bear a child, the young woman protested that she wasn’t married yet.

The angel said, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The baby was Jesus Christ.

One of the duties of the Holy Spirit is to give life. When situations seem hopeless and we face doubt and despair, the Spirit is ready to breathe new vigor into us.

Sally Carpenter has a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and is a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Moorpark. Reach her at sallyc@theacorn.com.

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