Have you ever watched a toddler try to master blowing bubbles for the first time?
Entranced by the beautiful floating globes her parent has produced, she dips the wand in the bubble solution, brings it to her face, purses her lips…and blows an almighty explosion of air that achieves nothing but a spray of soap.
Pouty lips and even sometimes a frustrated chucking of the wand to the ground often follow.
She has learned that you have to blow hard to blow out the candle on top of the birthday cake. Why is it different when you blow bubbles?
Violent wind and gentle wind—both are manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
But in the Church, especially on Pentecost, we have often erred on placing too much emphasis on the violent wind in the Book of Acts, sometimes forgetting entirely the tenderness and gentleness of Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit on the disciples in the Gospel of John.
Jesus does not impart the Holy Spirit to the disciples with the force of a hurricane.
It is as small and as simple as breathing out, a gentle, patient descent of the Holy Spirit, as gentle and patient as the breath necessary to blow bubbles.
We are often as astute as toddlers trying to blow bubbles in our approach to being in relationship to the Holy Spirit.
We’ve all had (or at least wished we’ve had) the loud, bright Holy Spirit experiences, the moments in worship and in life when God’s presence is forceful, awakening, invigorating, when we can practically feel the tongues of fire descending on our heads.
But the experiences of being breathed on by Jesus—those can pass us by entirely unless we’re deliberately developing the spiritual discipline of being on watch for them.
Perhaps the reason we only want to remember the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts is because we only want to identify with the disciples in Acts. Continue reading