O Holy Spirit, root of life, creator, cleanser of all things;
Anoint our wounds, awaken us with lustrous movement of your wings.
O holy Wisdom, soaring power, encompass us with wings unfurled, And carry us, encircling all above, below, and through the world.
The colorful work of Chinese artist He Qi attests to the mysterious and unpredictable movement of the Holy Spirit. As a child growing up in China, it was forbidden to study the Bible. Oddly, it was not illegal to study Christian art. Qi became curious about the Christian faith through art. Even though, he didn’t know the scriptures behind the images, he recognized that there was an unspoken power and presence inherent in the art. In time he began to understand color and symbolism, and after emigrating from China to the US, he learned the biblical stories as well.
Qi’s portrayal of the Day of Pentecost, the birth of the church, and the giving of the Holy Spirit, poignantly draws these themes together. The gift of the Holy Spirit, which appears upon the disciples’ head as flames of fire, is represented by doves. This captures both the movement and intensity of the Spirit. The Chinese lanterns as well as the candle portray the festive and celebratory nature of Pentecost. Perhaps the most intriguing details are buildings. The closed doors of the Upper Room, Jerusalem’s temple columns and peasant homes are to be seen, as well as a stone bridge.
For Qi, the meaning of the story of Pentecost rests on this bridge. It seems to state that the entire movement of the Holy Spirit crosses back and forth atop this bridge. Our prayers rise to God by the Spirit across the bridge, and God’s story of grace and salvation comes to us by the power of the Spirit across this bridge. It is a helpful metaphor in understanding the work of the Holy Spirit. The story of Jesus Christ and his love is carried across the bridge to us by the Spirit.
On Pentecost Sunday, June 8th, we celebrate again the mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit across that bridge into to our lives. Martin Luther understood the meaning of the Spirit’s movement across the bridge in his Explanation to the Apostles’ Creed. “I believe that I cannot by my own understanding or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called through the gospel.”
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
Peace, Pastor Arden Haug