One of my favorite details in the story of Jesus’ baptism is the decent of the Holy Spirit. All four gospels tell us that the Spirit came down in the form of a dove, though who could actually see it is open to a wide variety of interpretation. This Sunday, we’ll hear Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism, which is scantly detailed, but is certain to mention that the Spirit descended “in bodily form like a dove.”
Truth be told, I’ve never seen the Holy Spirit come down from heaven. I’ve seen a few doves in my day, but never one that seemed to hover over someone, offering them the gift of tongues or miraculous healing or compelling them to spend 40 days fasting in the wilderness. Of course, just because I’ve never seen the Holy Spirit visibly descending, doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced the manifestations of such an event. In fact, one of the coolest parts of my job is honing my ability to see the Holy Spirit at work in someone’s life, often when they can’t see it themselves, but let’s be honest, the ability to see the Holy Spirit at work isn’t strictly the purview of the ordained.
One of the great gifts of the Cursillo Movement in The Episcopal Church is the way in which it teaches Pilgrims to learn to watch for the Holy Spirit. By recapturing the ancient prayer invoking the Holy Spirit, tens of thousands of Christians have begun the process of having their eyes open to the Spirit at work in the world around them. This ability to see beyond the normal scope of time and space is a gift of faith, and one that grows stronger each time a manifestation of the Spirit is seen and acknowledged. May God open your eyes to the gift of the Holy Spirit, this day and for evermore.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen