come Holy Spirit?

Today we celebrated Pentecost, with a lot of songs asking for the presence of the Spirit. "Come Holy Spirit," over and over. I started to get uncomfortable. Then as the energy of the singing rose and the people got more and more urgent in their pleas, I had to quit singing altogether.

Come Holy Spirit?

Wait a minute. Aren't we Christians?

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? (1 Cor 3.16)

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Rom 8.9)
Why are we pleading "come Holy Spirit," as if the Spirit was far from us? One song used rain imagery, as if we were dry land thristing for the Spirit to rain on us (people really got worked up over this one). Are we really dry land? Do we not know the Spirit dwells in us--or are we just not paying attention?

It reminded me of a different but somewhat similar Sunday I wrote about years ago in my journal:
I visited another, larger, Pentecostal church yesterday evening. They had a guest evangelist preaching a revival ("'Revival' sounds strange," someone once said to me, "it sounds like something was dead"). He used the imagery of the Israelites shouting to bring down the walls of Jericho. And that was really the perfect image for what I saw yesterday. Uninhibited shouting against the various "walls": personal fears, financial limitations, etc. Let us in to the blessing! Which is good in that it recognizes that all that popular society and popular religion offer is nothing compared to what God has promised. But yelling at the walls (or the devil) does little more than make us light-headed and out of breath. The promised land is not behind these walls.

As Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is in your midst." We're not locked outside, beating on the stonework; we should be inside, where there is true peace and power--the love of God. We shouldn't be begging to be let in; through faith, we are the kingdom of God. It's the devil who has to shout against us, and (through others) beat on us, because he's the one locked out.

Oh, how close these people are to all they cry out for, and more. If only they had the faith to see. The kingdom of God is already here. And this means much more than gifts of tongues and healing. It means perfect providence for all our physical needs, the hand of God to lead and protect us, freedom from every so-called "necessary evil," and the power of God's love to motivate and guide our every action. Love--not fear, not money--LOVE.

[Incidentally, I started yesterday with 37 cents. Last night, I went to sleep on the porch of the church with pockets (and stomach) full of food, clean clothes, and $50. I didn't shout (or even ask) for a thing.]

I felt the same way today: "Oh, how close these people are to all they cry out for, and more." These words of Jesus about the Spirit were read at the beginning of the service:
"I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

"I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me" ...Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"

Jesus answered him, "If a person loves me, they will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." (Jn 14.16-23)
"You know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate..." Don't we believe this? Don't we experience this?

Apparently we're not so sure. But Paul was sure, and I love the way he describes the Spirit active in us:
As it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him," God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the inner spirit of that person? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. (1 Cor 2.9-13)