Pumped – 5-14-24

You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday’s gospel reading is here

Theological doctrines relating to the Holy Spirit are called “Pneumatology,” pneuma being the ancient Greek word for breath, spirit, soul. It is also the root of our word “pneumatic,” referring to compressing air to create power. (On the other end of the intellectual spectrum, there’s the old Saturday Night Live sketch with the body builders Hanz and Franz and their catch phrase, “Pump you up!”…)

Definitions of pneumatic refer to things being “filled with air,” or “using air pressure to move or work.” We see how inflated tires will help a vehicle move, or steam-fed pistons power machinery. The compressed air moves the pistons, which move other parts, small things powering the whole. That’s a pretty good image of the church engaged in God’s mission to reclaim, restore and renew all of creation to wholeness. What if we were to think of ourselves as vehicles or machines working pneumatically to accomplish far more than we could on our own?

The New Testament has many references to people being “filled with the Spirit.” This is one way the Holy Spirit seems to work in the world – by filling human beings. We even read of Jesus, before certain miracles, that “the Spirit was with him.” When we are filled with the Spirit, we are able to do “immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine,” to use Paul’s phrase. We are able to exercise faith, mobilize others, speak boldly, pray powerfully, organize brilliantly, joyfully aware that God is working with and through us.

What does it feel like to be filled with the Holy Spirit? It can be a gentle experience, waves of comfort or well-being or peace washing over us. It can feel like an influx of energy, with a physiological effect on our nervous system – increased heartbeat, tingling, trembling, feeling heat in extremities or all over. It can come with an intensity of emotion – joy, hope, faith, love – or give us total clarity about something we’re doing or saying. What does it feel like for you?

I can feel the difference between when I do something on my own steam (writing Water Daily, for instance), using natural talents and ideas, and when it feels like the Holy Spirit is filling me, writing through me. Sometimes I don’t feel different – I only know by the result that the Spirit added more than I brought. And sometimes I’m in a flow that I know to be Spirit-filled. We might call that pneumatic ministry. I think God desires us to be filled with compressed power that moves us so that the whole enterprise functions at peak effectiveness. God wants our faith tires filled so we can move mountains.

Of course, “pumped” is also slang for “excited,” “psyched up,” anticipating great things. If we truly want the gifts and blessings and ministries that are our inheritance as beloved believers in Christ, we will allow the Holy Spirit to “pump us up,” and seek to live “pumped.”

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

© Kate Heichler, 2024. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereHere are the bible readings for next Sunday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.

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