Feel the Spirit

Feel the Spirit
By Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

In John’s gospel, these words are attributed to Jesus: “God is spirit…” The Greek word for spirit is pneuma and is gender-neutral. It literally means currents of air, breeze, or vital-life force.

There are many images for the divine in scripture, including Adonai (My Lord), El Shaddai (almighty breasted One), Elohim (which is masculine and feminine and plural), Yahweh (which is derived from a “to be” verb and basically means “isness”), Rock, Rainbow, Castle, and more. But all of the biblical images for the divine presence and power, my favorite remains “spirit” – the Breath of Life that can be known, experienced, relied upon, but never seen or limited by gender, form, traditions, or any other constraint.

In the first century Roman Empire, Jews and early Christians were called “atheists” because they had no idols, no statuary, no icons yet, no images for their God. God could not be contained in a single image (which is why in scripture there are many names for God). The polytheistic Romans thought they had no real god because they didn’t have images of their God.

One of the Ten Commandments forbids us from making graven images of the divine. Our earliest spiritual ancestors took that very seriously; and we honor that commandment still by not limiting God to human imagery (God must be so much more that human form or any form), by not limiting God to our texts, traditions, sacraments, to any saint or sage or prophet or hero, or to inherited prejudices. God is Spirit, beyond image, the God of Many Names, the Mystery Beyond Our Naming.

Today, try to get beyond inherited images and even beyond discursive thinking, and allow yourself to experience the power and presence in your heart. Just for this moment, don’t bother naming it or giving it a face or a back story, just feel it, feel empowered by it, loved unconditionally by it, embraced by it, and allow it to express through you. This is the Spirit of Life, the Substance of all life, and It is with and within you always. This is the Good News.


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