How the Holy Spirit Moves Today . . . in 100 Words or Less

photo courtesy of Letting_Go_Of_Control via C.C. License at FlickrAs Christians prepare to celebrate Pentecost -- the momentous day the Holy Spirit was "breathed into" the disciples, birthing the Church as we know it -- we asked some of our favorite theobloggers to reflect on the elusive concept of "Spirit." Specifically, we asked them to respond to the question:  "How is the Holy Spirit at work in the world today?  . . . in 100 words or less." Their inspired responses follow.


Monica A. Coleman, Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Claremont School of Theology

Sam Hamilton-Poore, Director of the Program in Christian Spirituality and Adjunct Professor at San Francisco Theological Seminary

Brian McLaren, emergent author, speaker, pastor, and networker

Callid Keefe-Perry, a Member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and a co-convener of the Emergent Cohort in Rochester, NY

Carl Gregg, Associate Pastor at Northminster Church in Monroe, LA

Amy Julia Becker, a writer and a student at Princeton Theological Seminary

Tripp Fuller, a Baptist minister serving Neighborhood Church and Ph.D. student at Claremont School of Theology

Byron Wade, Vice-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a Presbyterian pastor in Raleigh, NC

Alyce McKenzie, Professor of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology

Thomas Turner, Senior Editor, Literary Arts of GENERATE Magazine, an adjunct English professor at Nyack College, and a leader at The Plant in Mahwah, NJ

Bruce Epperly, Professor of Practical Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary and co-pastor of Disciples United Community Church in Lancaster, PA.


Monica A. Coleman

when we put the gospel
to hip hop
and host u2charists,
when we share the church building
with the Korean congregation,
when we preach against homophobia
when we break bread
with jews and muslims,
when the teenagers lead worship
on a regular Sunday (not just youth day)
when we invoke the ancestors
and learn from their lives,
when we live at the borders
offering water to those in the desert
harbor to those in danger
and community when we don't fit in. . .
it is then that we speak in tongues

Monica blogs at Beautiful Mind Blog.

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Sam Hamilton-Poore

Closer to us than our own breath and breathing, the Risen Christ fills us with his own Spirit -- quietly, intimately. With this breath, this power, we then go about the everyday, unspectacular, grubby work of forgiveness. Breathe, forgive; breathe, forgive; breathe, forgive. Although we often long for the dazzling or spectacular, we live in a time, a world, in need of people who breathe in, regularly, the quiet power and grace of Christ's Spirit -- and people who, likewise, breathe out, regularly, the power and grace of forgiveness. Our world -- so spectacularly broken and burning -- needs people for whom reconciliation is as normal and natural as breathing.

Read Sam's full article on the Holy Spirit here.

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Brian McLaren

On the grass-roots level, there are tens of thousands of Christians who aren't waiting for denominational leaders to fix things. They're just getting on with it. They're doing it, living it, making it real in their lives, in their neighborhoods, through small groups and mission trips and so on. When you have leaders at the top working for needed change, and people at the grass roots doing the same, and when you're confident that the Holy Spirit is behind it all, eventually the tide will turn and a new day will come.

Brian blogs at Brian McLaren

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Callid Keefe-Perry

Bird Shadows/Holy Spirit
My God is in the next room,
cooking unseen feasts
and humming;
moments of ache before rain
when the whole June cloud
is ready to burst through
though no drop has yet fallen;
dandelion blades that insist
adamantly they must reside directly
in the middle of your neighbor's
blacktopped suburban driveway;
sights of the shadow of a bird flitting
by the sill near the bed of an aging Grace,
who can no longer move but counts herself
lucky because at least she can still see.
This is my God:
expectant and grinning
wild and near.

Callid blogs at The Image of Fish

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Carl Gregg

The Spirit is at work wherever there is community. The Spirit is at work wherever there is gratitude. The Spirit is at work wherever there are "sighs too deep for words." The Spirit is at work wherever there is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control," for these are the fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit is at work as the "whole creation groans in labor pains" birthing new life. The Spirit is at work wherever "young people prophesy" against injustice and "see visions" of hope and wherever elders still "dream dreams" of a better world.

Carl blogs at Faith Forward at Patheos.

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Amy Julia Becker

In nudges and whispers.
Like a seed growing, imperceptible at first. Like wind, invisible, refreshing, transformative. Like water, cleansing, renewing, powerful.
Unpredictably. Uncontrollably.
Praying: for us, with us, in us, through us.
Convicting, like a judge in a courtroom. Comforting, like a mother with a frightened child in the middle of the night.
We know her work by experiencing it. She will not be pinned down, can only be described with analogies.
But wherever there is forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, grace, she leaves her fingerprints.
Always the one connecting, making us into the Body of Christ, God's hands in the world.

Amy Julia blogs at Thin Places.

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Tripp Fuller

It is easy to get swept away by the vision of God's dream for the world. Unlike the brokenness of the present, it is whole. Unlike the violence of the present, there is peace. Unlike, well, what is actual, something more is possible. The Holy Spirit is God's continuous gift to the present that protests what is with what could be. She is the always-active agent of God's coming. Life in the Spirit then, is one that dreams God's dream during the day.

Tripp Fuller blogs at Homebrewed Christianity.

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Byron Wade

Many people question if the Holy Spirit is at work in the world today. Put on some different eyes and see --
The claiming of an infant in baptism
The faith of a spouse in the loss of a loved one
The building of a Habitat for Humanity home
Strangers assisting in areas of a natural disaster
The grace exhibited to one another after a difficult discussion
And the ability to awaken to see a new day . . .
Then you can say the Holy Spirit is at work.

Byron blogs at ViceMod Blog.

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Alyce McKenzie

At Pentecost the Spirit filled the room with a mighty wind, it touched everyone in the room and everyone could understand everyone. It was no humanly manufactured breeze to be turned off and on by human hands, it did not touch only the "spirit filled," and it did not enable people to understand only those who already spoke their language. As the third Person of the Trinity, the Spirit lives in community with the Father and with the Son. The presence of Jesus in his physical absence, the Spirit prays in our inward lives "with sighs too deep for words."

Alyce blogs at Faith Forward at Patheos.

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Thomas Turner

The Holy Spirit is at work as the presence of God throughout the world, our communities, and our lives. The Spirit is at work through us, Christ's body: did he not say he was sending "his spirit"?

The Spirit is Christ's continuing presence, working through the miraculous and ordinary to cultivate God's kingdom. The Spirit empowers us, to paraphrase Hopkins, to keep grace and to act in God's eye what in God's eye we are. The Spirit baptizes us into new life, a life as citizens of Christ's kingdom, and is the very breath of life that sustains Christ's kingdom.

Thomas Turner blogs at Everyday Liturgy.

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Bruce Epperly

The Spirit is found in "sighs too deep for words" that move through creation, giving us life, energy, imagination, and courage to face the challenges of today. Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." With every breath, we can receive that same life-giving power that breaks down barriers of ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, age, and faith tradition. With every breath, we can experience Spirit, enabling us to receive and give the divine inspiration that transforms all things, mind, body, spirit, relationships, and the planet.

Breathe deeply God's Spirit; be transformed and inspired.

Bruce blogs at Faith Forward at Patheos.

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Where do you see the Spirit at work in the world and church today? Join the conversation and post a comment below.

Read more Theoblogger Challenges at Patheos:

5/14/2010 4:00:00 AM
  • Meditation
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  • Deborah Arca
    About Deborah Arca
    Deborah Arca is the former Director of Content at Patheos. Prior to joining Patheos, Deborah managed the Programs in Christian Spirituality at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, including the Program's renowned spiritual direction program and the nationally-renowned Lilly-funded Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project. Deborah has also been a youth minister, a director of music and theatre programs for children and teens, and a music minister. Deborah belongs to a progressive United Church of Christ church in Englewood, CO.