They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)
I remember being fascinated by the name “Holy Ghost” in the Apostles’ Creed when I was a kid. My childish imagination predictably shot into overdrive each Sunday. Who is this Ghost we talk about each week? And why am I the only one who seems to find this so intriguing? No one else seemed troubled or excited by this Ghost business. My mind, however, shifted from holy and uplifting thoughts about Jesus’ great love for me to every Halloween movie I had seen or heard about.
How many of us today have a solid understanding of the Holy Spirit (or, if you prefer, Ghost)? We know who God the Father is. He creates. We see His work. Heck, we are His work! As much as we know about the Father, we know still more about God the Son. Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin, gathered disciples, preached the coming Reign of God, healed all manner of sick people, cast out legions of demons, gave up His life as a sacrifice for the world, and rose from the dead! But the Holy Spirit? Who is He?
Far from haunting the dark and dilapidated house down the street from you, the Holy Spirit’s work is all around us. Not creation, but re-creation. Where there is death, the Holy Spirit breathes life. Where brokenness, restoration. Where sin, forgiveness. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was seen and heard in the words spoken by the twelve Apostles. Some who heard them said, “we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
In fact, if you were to look for the Holy Spirit today, you would find Him easily! Perhaps not in the confused thinking of an untrained five-year-old, but in the words spoken by the child who sings “Yes, Jesus loves me”. Perhaps not whispered in the ears of the faithful who have prayed “hard enough”, but proclaimed boldly from the pulpits of congregations with pastors who recognize and understand how to divide God’s good words of Law and Gospel. Perhaps not in the dreamy moments right before waking, but in the water and word of Baptism, the bread and wine, Body and Blood of the Lord’s Supper.
The Holy Spirit is not some aimless ghost, wandering around looking for just the right person to pester. The Holy Spirit concretely presents Himself to His people in the Words of Holy Scripture and in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. The Holy Spirit is the One every Christian has come to know! The Holy Spirit is the One responsible for introducing us to Jesus. The Holy Spirit has been breathing out this Word of life through Christ alone since Jesus sent Him on Pentecost about 2,000 years ago.
May we not be like my young self, asking “who is this Holy Ghost?”, but rather like the Apostles and Christians throughout the ages who have recognized Him through His holy work of bringing people to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ!
O Holy Spirit, come to us and speak to us, strengthening us in the one true faith in Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.