Advent Reflections Update

Unfortunately, the only reflection I can find at the moment is…the most recent one. So I’ll start from the ending, and when I get to the beginning, stop.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Luke 2:25-26

Before we go any further, it is important to know that Simeon went on to identify baby Jesus as the Messiah by the guiding of the Holy Spirit.

Okay, now check out the words in bold type (emphasis mine): “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit…” This jumped out at me because of two opposing doctrines about the Holy Spirit and its (his? her?) role on earth. I won’t tell you which churches adhere to each theory, because I honestly don’t know. But I know which one works for me.

The first doctrine teaches that the Holy Spirit did not come to human beings until AFTER Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. (This line of reasoning is particularly associated with the identification of the Holy Spirit as “Counselor” in John 14 and 15–a counselor that Jesus promised to send to his followers.)

The second idea teaches that the Holy Spirit has always been here, that it is manifest in the consciences of all humans, that it was through the Spirit that such worthies as Abraham and David were saved.

John 2 seems to support the latter theory, at least to some extent. The Spirit’s presence predated and overlapped the human life of Christ, but who knows how it acted prior to Jesus’ birth or whether it indeed “saved” anyone. And perhaps the activity of the Spirit changed after Jesus’ human life.

As a side note, we Christians are so attached to the idea of God being the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And then we have crises of faith when we try to equate the seemingly vengeful Old Testament God with the apparently loving New Testament God.

My answer is this: I am Holly. I have always been Holly. I will always be Holly. Nothing will change that. Yesterday, I may have been grouchy, but today I’m in a good mood. Being Holly doesn’t mean always being happy, or always knowing the right answer. Being Holly is at once simpler and more complex than that.

God is like that, too. Of course, since this is GOD we’re talking about, it’s even more so. God told Moses: I am. I think that’s as much as we’re ever going to understand.

Back to Luke 2: 26, this verse does, at least, seem to lay to rest the idea of Jesus as a human being possessed by the Holy Spirit–which was one early church theory about how Jesus could be human and God at once. (A theory that, incidentally, totally creeps me out.) After all, if the Spirit acted independently of Jesus, it could not have been completely bonded with and encapsulated by his human form.

Happy New Year.

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