Devotional time! My church does a Lenten devotional each year written by us, for us, and this year we’re thinking about a favorite hymn. I picked Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling.
Ever. Not just sometimes, not just when the time is right, not just when expected, not just when we feel it. The Holy Spirit is EVER dwelling within us and everywhere.
I’ve often made the error of seeing the movement of the Holy Spirit as a special, occasional happening. I’m not alone in this: “Come, Holy Spirit!” we say, or we say “The Spirit is moving now!” We say this as if the Spirit of God is sometimes here, but sometimes gone from here. About this we couldn’t be more wrong. The Holy Spirit is more apparent at some times than at others, but never gone for good.
Whatever the Spirit is doing, it is ever doing. And look at these verbs, these words of doing: dwelling. Brooding. Raising. Living. Striving. Forming. Working. Quickening. Strengthening. Absolving. Binding. It’s a busy and multifaceted Spirit. And the things this Spirit is doing, it does in us—in each of us and in the collective us.
Then there’s this line: “Holy Spirit, ever forming in the church the mind of Christ.” I read this line as a challenge. What is in the mind of Christ? Are we sure it’s what we think it is? Since the church began, we humans have been trying to enact our vision of what is on Christ’s mind. We get it wrong, we reform, we revise, all with the Spirit’s help and guidance. What would Christ have us do? How would Christ see our own situation. Surely we have enacted many misreadings of Christ’s mind over the centuries, but we have hope of doing it better. The Spirit is ever forming in us the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit is ever pushing us, ever prompting us, and ever available to us, empowering us to better and better know and express Christ’s mind in our lives and our societies.
Did I mention this hymn is fun to sing? All those moving eighth notes!
Holy Spirit, you “ever dwell” in me. Help me to perceive you and to respond to you. Move me when you move in me, and move us as a community when you move in us. Amen.