WHO IS THIS \"THIRD PERSON\"?

… and the Holy Spirit.
By: Rev. Phil Dieke, Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Digital Ministry.
Sunday, May 2 we begin a new series titled Third Person: A Series on the Holy Spirit that will conclude on May 23, Pentecost Sunday.


The Holy Spirit.
The Third Person of the Trinity. 
Often in  Mainline Protestant Churches, the Holy Spirit is relegated to Pentecost and that is about all we hear of her (if even that). Occasionally, she’ll get mentioned, but not nearly as much as God the Father/Creator or Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. Though we profess to be Trinitarian, there is often a practical hierarchy when it comes to the Trinity. 
I wish I had a word cloud that gave a visual representation of how often we use the words Jesus, Christ, God (typically meaning God the Father/Creator/First Person of the Trinity), and the Holy Spirit. My guess is Jesus and/or Christ would be massive, closely followed by God, then tucked away hidden in the corner we’d find the words “Holy Spirit.” Maybe I’m overly critical, but based on my experience we simply do not talk about the Holy Spirit all that often.
And it’s not just us in the modern church. The Apostle’s Creed isn’t any better. While Jesus Christ gets an entire section, “God the Father Almighty” is reference twice and given a description (brief as it is). The Holy Spirit on the other hand, she is mentioned… mentioned right along with everything else that is thrown in the final paragraph. Considering all the emphasis we give to the First and Second Persons of the Trinity, we are left to wonder:

Who is the Holy Spirit?

What role does the Holy Spirit play?

These question will guide us throughout this series. You are invited to consider what assumptions about the Holy Spirit you bring to this series? Maybe you are like me and you grew up confused at best and slightly concerned about what this Holy Spirit might do to you. Growing up in Southwest Missouri, where the Assemblies of God denomination is headquartered, I was terrified of speaking in tongues. As a fairly shy kid I didn’t want to stand out. I didn’t have a lot of interactions with people speaking in tongues, but the thought of being slain in the Spirit, thus that I would not be able to control the speech that came out of my mouth… that sounded terrible. 
As a Religious Studies major in undergrad I spent time studying Glossolalia, which simultaneously took most of the fear away while also heightening the mysteriousness of it. While I very much value my academic experience, there is something ironic about the academic and precise study of something that seems so wild and unpredictable. 
A few years later a youth ministry colleague and friend who grew up Pentecostal confessed he too feared speaking in tongues. Primarily because in the church he grew up in, speaking in tongues was a right of passage. You did it, or you didn’t. You had it, or you didn’t. He said he eventually learned to “fake it ‘til you make it,” by rapidly and repeatedly spelling the name Eddie (yes, you can try it: E-D-D-I-E). I never knew if he was joking or not…
It wasn’t until seminary I really began to talk the Holy Spirit seriously, realizing first and foremost there is way more to the Holy Spirit than speaking in tongues. One of my Systematic Theology professors challenged the practical (if not theological) hierarchy the church has established within the Trinity. “If we were truly Trinitarian Christians we would celebrate Pentecost in the same way we celebrate Christmas,” he said. I took this challenge to heart and that next Pentecost the young adult ministry I ran held a crawfish boil on the Sunday of Pentecost. Why a crawfish boil? It was the closest thing I could think of to “divided tongues, as of fire,” (see Acts 2:3 if you have no idea what I’m talking about). Sure, it wasn’t Christmas, but it was definitely a good time!
I know the Holy Spirit can be intimidating. As we enter this series I hope you will spend some time analyzing the assumptions you have regarding the Third Person of the Trinity.

What emotions are invoked?
What questions arise?

 
I can’t promise you this series will answer all your questions. It is my hope we will meet in a space of curiosity and emerge with even better questions. And I can profess my belief that as we take time to intentionally inquire of the Holy Spirit she will reveal herself. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But I believe when we attune ourselves to her, she reveals herself. Sometimes in a still soft voice, sometime in study, other times in sporadic and inexplicable ways. However she chooses, my prayer is you experience her in unexpected and beautiful ways, and you develop an expectation of continual cultivated experiences with her going forward. May it be so!
As we journey this series together, you are invited to study along with us. We’ll be reading Dr. Jack Levison’s 40 Days With the Holy Spirit: Fresh Air for Every Day. You can find it on Amazon here, or check your local book store! I hope you will read this 40-day devotional, and I also hope you’ll join the WRUMC Devotional Studies Facebook Group to share your thoughts and be in conversations with other as we journey this together. 
In addition to this devotional study, Dr. Jack Levison will join me for the Sunday Sit Down the first two weeks of this series. If you miss the Sit Down, you can always find them on our YouTube Playlist. 
Finally, I hope you’ll reach out to me.  Whether you have questions about the Holy Spirit, experiences you want to share, or declarations you want to make. I am so curious about the Spirit’s work and movement, and thus I want to hear from you. You can email me at pdieke@wrumc.org.

I leave you with the English translation of the Prayer of the Holy Spirit from A Book of Prayers 1982:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.
Lord,
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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