In 1998, Dame Judi Dench won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’. Despite the fact that she only appeared in the film for 8 ½ minutes, her presence as the reigning monarch was felt throughout, and, being the supreme actress that she is, when she does appear she dominates the screen.
In some ways the Holy Spirit plays a similar role in Scripture. Appearing only occasionally in the text of the first three quarters of the bible (the Old Testament), nevertheless the Spirit’s presence is known and felt throughout – and when the Spirit does appear front and centre in the narrative, whether ‘coming upon’ a Judge or King, or rushing through the room at Pentecost, the power and glory of God dominates the page.
If Jesus Christ is the unquestioned ‘hero’ of Scripture, the Holy Spirit plays the decisive supporting role. This is true even at Creation. Whilst New Testament writers St John and St Paul make it clear that Christ was the ‘Word of God’ declaring creation into being through the narrative of the bible’s first chapter, Genesis 1:2 tells us that it was the Spirit of God who was hovering (or brooding, in the marvellous phrasing of the old translations) over the waters, making Christ’s creative word a powerful reality.
From the beginning, God has always been a Trinity – Father, Son and Spirit, a perfect inter-relationship of love and glory. People often mistakenly think that God started as one, then became two with Jesus, and finally three at Pentecost. But Genesis 1 tells us otherwise. And the extraordinary truth is that we are invited into that relationship: effective through the work of Christ and the indwelling witness of the Spirit. We get to ‘eat with God, and God with us’ (Rev 3:20), to share in this divine web of love forever.
In this season we will explore what that means, and I hope this journey will reveal new depths to you about God, and your life in and with Him. But today, let’s reflect a moment that the fullness of the Spirit was only revealed many, many years after creation, at Pentecost. In the divine will and wisdom of God, what had always been there finally became a visible reality.
The fact that we bear God’s image means that this too can be a reality for us. Gifts and talents, causes and opportunities, can still come unexpectedly to the fore later in our lives. In God’s economy, all of life can be used for His glory. How is God at work in you currently? Are there deep facets of who you are being revealed for His glory, even now? As the Spirit of God hovers over the waters of your life, where might God be saying: ‘Let there be light….’?
God is always making everything new. Amen, come Holy Spirit.