Wednesday, May 30, 2007


PENTECOST AFTERSHOCKS. I find William Stringfellow's insight into the role and work of God as Holy Spirit most helpful. As Sunday, May 27 marked Pentecost as the birthday of the church, may the realization of God's persistent presence as Holy Spirit in us, among us, and thru us--sometimes as Agitator--bring comfort, courage, wisdom, and world-changing compassion.

SPOOKY ALLUSION? "In my experience as a child in the church, when adults named the Holy Spirit in the presence of children, it was always an utterly obscure, unspecified, literally spooky allusion. The mere invocation of the name, without any definition, connection, or elaboration, would be effective in aborting any issues raised by a child. The Holy Spirit was the great, available, handy estoppel."

NO VERBAL SLEIGHT OF HAND. "It was only later on, after I had begun to read the Bible seriously on my own initiative, that the cloture about the Holy Spirit was disrupted and the ridiculous mystification attending THIS name of the Word of God began to be dispelled. In contrast to my childish impressions, I found the Bible to be definitive and lucid as to the identity, character, style, and habitat of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is no term summoned simply to fill a void, or to enthrall rather than instruct the laity, or to achieve some verbal sleight of hand because comprehension is lacking."

MILITANT PRESENCE OF THE WORD OF GOD. "Biblically, the Holy Spirit names the faithfulness of God to his own creation. Biblically, the Holy Spirit means the militant presence of the Word of God inhering in the life of the whole of creation. Biblically, the Holy Spirit is the Word of God at work both historically and existentially, acting incessantly and pervasively to renew the integrity of life in this world."

FREED FROM ENSHRINEMENT. "By virtue of the redundant affirmation of the biblical witness, the false notion, nourished by my childhood in the Episcopal Church, that the Holy Spirit is somehow possessed by or enshrined within the sanctuary of the church was at last refuted, and I was freed from it. Coincidentally, the celebration in the sanctuary became, for me, authentic: a Eucharist for the redemption of
the life of the whole world of creation in the Word of God, instead of vain ritual or hocus pocus."

PROMPTING EXPECTANCY. "It was the biblical insight into the truth of the Holy Spirit that signaled my own emancipation from religiosity. It was the biblical news of the Holy Spirit that began, then, to prompt the expectancy of encounter with the Word of God in any and all events in the common life of the world and in my own life as a part of that. "

HOLY SPIRIT AS AGITATOR. "It was, and is, the biblical saga of the Word of God as Agitator, as the Holy Spirit, that assures me that where so ever human conscience is alive and active, THAT is a sign of the saving vitality of the Word of God in history, here and now."

-- William Stringfellow, quoted in A Keeper of the Word, an anthology of Stringfellow edited by Bill Wylie Kellerman (Eerdmans, 1994).

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