Ezekiel 37 describes the “Valley of Dry Bones” – an “image parable” which represents the people of Israel, defeated and in exile, cut off from hope and life. While this was an actual historic situation, it is not unreasonable to see it as representative off any kind of human situation in which we feel lost, powerless, and hopeless. But the point of the parable is clear: what is impossible for us is possible for God’s Spirit, who gives life and new hope where there is death and despair.
In the Gospel reading from John, Jesus describes the “Counselor” or “Spirit of Truth” who will come in place of his physical absence. The Spirit bears witness to Jesus and guides Jesus’ disciples into truth. It works to reveal to the world its sin (refusal to believe Jesus), to reveal righteousness (the witness to Jesus) and bring judgment (against the powers/forces in the world that are opposed to God’s life and salvation).
[Acts 2 gives to us the dramatic story of the Day of Pentecost, when the praying disciples are filled with the Spirit of God in a dramatic way. Peter explains to the confused crowd how this day was anticipated by the prophet Joel. We see the Spirit doing what John’s Gospel said: bearing witness to Jesus and call people to belief in the risen Christ. This witness will place the disciples into conflict with the world – the same ruling council who sentenced Jesus to death!]
The entire chapter of Romans 8 contains a great deal of teaching from Paul about the Holy Spirit. The verses assigned for Pentecost make the amazing statement that the work of God’s salvation isn’t merely focused on human beings, but the entire creation that God originally declared as good and wants to restore from brokenness. And even as we human being groan in our own weakness, the Holy Spirit is working and moving deeply and beyond our own conscious thoughts – to accomplish the purposes of God!
Comment: We who believe that Jesus is risen and has sent the Spirit of God should take great courage from the witness of Pentecost. We may not be conscious of it, we may not “see it happening” – but the Spirit is moving among us. And sometimes we do get glimpses of the often hidden presence and power of God working in this broken world. As one simple prayer puts it, may we say: “Lord open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world around us!” May we add to this another prayer: “…and Lord, let me be an instrument of your peace/life/love.” Come Holy Spirit!