Pentecost (this year Sunday, May 15th) is the final day of the Easter season (the Great Fifty Days.) It's the 50th day from Easter Sunday in which the church is called to celebrate the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Pentecost Sunday is the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, changing them, empowering them to live out their resurrection faith by telling others about Jesus through bold words and actions.
You may have noticed In churches and religious art, that a variety of symbols are used to represent the Holy Spirit, all of which come from the Bible.
One of the most common symbols of the Holy Spirit is a dove. It comes from the story of Jesus' baptism, when Jesus saw “the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.” (Mark 1:10).
Fire is another popular representation of the Holy Spirit. The fire that appeared on Pentecost (Acts 2:3) was reminiscent of the burning bush on Mount Sinai from which God spoke to Moses. (Exodus 3:2) During the Exodus, the people of God were led by a pillar of fire at night. (Exodus 13:21) Fire calls attention to the strength and force of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is also represented by wind. In fact, the original Hebrew and Greek words for “Spirit” can be translated as “wind.” The wind that appeared on Pentecost (Acts 2:2) was reminiscent of the wind that blew over the waters at the beginning of Creation. (Genesis 1:2) The wind calls attention to the Holy Spirit breathing life into the Church.
Water signifies birth and life. From a faith perspective, it represents the cleansing and life-giving action of the Holy Spirit at Baptism. (Matthew 3:11; John 3:5)
The cloud is used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit because clouds provide life-giving water. In the Old Testament, God often leads his people with a cloud or appears to them in a cloud. (Exodus 16:10) The image of a cloud is often combined with the image of light to symbolize the God who is hidden and mysterious but also revealing and luminous.
Anointing with oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit's uniting us with Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One. (Acts of the Apostles 10:38; 1 John 2:20-27)
Official documents in the past (Nehemiah 9:38; Esther 8:8), and some documents today, were sealed with hot wax. Then an imprint was made on the wax with the official seal of the person sending the document. In a similar way, we are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit to show that we are forever part of God's family. (Song of Songs 8:6; John 6:27)
If you were to draw a representation of the Holy Spirit, what would it look like? What would be your reasoning for drawing the Holy Spirit that way? How does the Holy Spirit affect your life?
Surely one of the key points about the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday is that it reminds us that we too are not alone in building God's kingdom in our present day. He empowers, indwells, equips, comforts and prods us to live out our faith with courage and boldness until that time in the future when Jesus will reappear. Why not pray that the Holy Spirit becomes a stronger and more powerful person in your life.
Rev Michelle Ireland