Saturday, 7 June 2014

Pentecost Sunday .............So how did the Holy Spirit change sex?

Of course, On one level it is nonsense talk about God having a particular gender. God is after all, so The Bible tells us, spirit - ("and those who worship HIM must do so likewise"). But we all live in a world where gender is an issue which literally divides the world. Weekly we hear of appalling atrocities happening in Asia and Africa where war is waged on helpless and innocent young women.
So the necessity to talk in sexualised language is our fault, not God's.

But we think in gender terms. Our whole vocabulary splits into "he" and "she", and when we talk about God not having a gender, the sad result (as the reference above shows) is that God becomes male.

But it was not always this way.

In the very start of the Hebrew Bible, and consistently though it, the proper noun given to the Holy Spirit is female (see Proverbs 8). The imagery of creation is quite clear - it is that of procreation - a male God and a female Spirit bringing forth life in the universe. Even the earliest name for God implies that God and "being" are the same thing, and in the way that we understand life......... it takes two to tango.

In fact, the earliest believers gave her a name, they called her "Sophia" (as in the "Hagia Sophia" in Istanbul which means "church of the Holy Spirit").

Gradually though, as we move from the two gender language of Hebrew (where the Spirit is female) to Greek,(three genders), the Holy Spirit become neutral, and when we translate that into good old no nonsense English, neutral, of course becomes male. So we start off, on Pentecost Sunday by apologising (confessing) to God for the awful mix up in passport control which has seen Ms God become Mr...

This is not new and controversial, it is very old, and very secure.

As a world and human race we all need that spark of life in our lives which She brings. That sense of hope, of being able to see possibilities where we thought none existed. That is who She is, it is what She does, and She loves to do it still, So fling off the male pretentiousness on this day of all days and let Her bring light and life into your world this day.

I spoke previously about a great influence on my life - the Narnia stories. Aslan (male I am afraid) creates life by breathing onto things and it reminds us on this day of days that the people who wrote these texts so long ago made no distinction between breath and the Holy Spirit, It is the same word. She is the same thing and creation comes where she goes.

Have a good Pentecost Sunday, especially if your name is Sophia.... or Sophie!

Rev'd Alan Poolton

No comments:

Post a comment