Exploring Our Faith: Who is the Holy Spirit?

By Wilson Hood
March 27, 2019 - 2:37pm

A gust of wind. A gush of water. A flickering flame. A dove, wings outstretched, soaring through the sky. A breath. 

All of these are images in scripture associated with the Holy Spirit, the third and final aspect of the Trinity that we will encounter together in our Lenten series exploring basic concepts of the Christian faith.  

Unlike many other Christian communities around the world, many congregations in the United States often spend little time talking or thinking very much about the Holy Spirit.  

In fact, the only day in our church year that we devote primarily to the Holy Spirit is Pentecost, the day when we retell the story of the Spirit’s appearance amongst the first disciples of Jesus (Acts 2:1-8). In this story, the Spirit appears in a “rush of violent wind,” bringing to mind the wild and miraculous breath of life God breathes into the first humans in Genesis (Genesis 2:4-7). 

And yet, despite these dramatic stories, the biblical images associated with the Holy Spirit wind and breath, alongside bird, fire, and water are not exceptional or spectacular at all. They are instead the stuff of everyday life, no more remarkable than a grocery list or a cup of coffee. 

After all, even our bodies reflect the elements of the Holy Spirit: 60% of an adult human body is made up of water, and an average person takes 16 breaths per minute. If we’re alive, and breathing right this very second, we can’t escape sharing something with the Holy Spirit. 

So: the Holy Spirit is both astonishing and ordinary, unexceptional and amazing, all at once. What do we make of this? Are these irreconcilable differences at the root of how we see the Holy Spirit, or exactly the place where our exploration can really begin? 

The adventure of our faith continues I look forward to diving in with you on Sunday!

In Faith,



If you'd like to hear the sermon from last week, click here.

Click here for the Lenten study archives.


Image credit: "Photograph from Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, CA mountain-wind.blogspot.com


Who is Jesus? Take-home questions

March 24, 2019, Third Sunday in Lent

United Parish in Brookline

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. (Mark 8:27-30)

Who is Jesus?


How did you first learn about Jesus/Christ?

What was your understanding?

How would you describe your relationship to Jesus/Christ? Feel free to draw or write.

Where is there comfort or discomfort when you think about Jesus/Christ?

Many titles and images for Jesus


There are many names and titles for Jesus in the Bible- among them are:




Son of God




Lamb of God



Logos (Wisdom/Word)

Second Adam


Bread of Life

Alpha and Omega

Morning Star

the Resurrection and the Life

the Living Water


Perfector of our Faith


Great High Priest


True Vine

Wonderful Counselor



Chosen One

the Way

the Truth

a mother hen gathering her chicks

Prince of Peace

King of the Jews




the Light of the World


Is there a title or role that resonates with you in particular?

Are that any that rub you the wrong way?

Are there other images or titles that you’d add to this list?

Do you have a favorite Gospel story or “version” of Jesus from among the four Gospels?  Why does this story or portrait resonate with you?

Your evolving notion of Jesus

What events, influences, or people helped shape and re-shape your perception of who Jesus is?

How has your understanding of Jesus/Christ changed or evolved over time?

How would you like to expand or deepen your understanding of Jesus?

Jesus Moments

When do you encounter Jesus in your daily life?

Take a moment to imagine: Jesus is going to be passing through your area tomorrow. What might Jesus look like in the 21st century? How might Jesus dress and talk? Where might Jesus spend time with followers and friends? Who might feel threatened by Jesus in the 21st century? Who might be drawn to Jesus? Who might be Jesus’ disciples?  Feel free to write or Draw

Try imagining Jesus as a different gender, race, age, and class from your own- what feelings or thoughts does that bring up?