I’m probably not the only pastor in the Iowa Conference who has been reading about “Holy Spirit holes” in preparation for this Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost. This bit of church architecture has found its way into a fair number of Pentecost messages in recent years.
The heavenly art on the domed ceilings of churches built in the middle ages concealed small openings through the roof. These “Holy Spirit holes”, symbolizing the Church’s openness to the Holy Spirit, were covered throughout the year, but opened for Pentecost. (Google “Holy Spirit holes” to see some photos!) Doves were released through these holes to fly through the sanctuary, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. Rose petals were dropped through these holes to symbolize the Spirit’s tongues of fire. And once the Pentecost celebrations were complete, the “Holy Spirit holes” were covered again.
Maybe I’ve had too much time to think about this during a wait for AAA and for a tire repair. There was a hole in the roof so that the Holy Spirit could get into the church. Annually.
I’ve gotten distracted by the architecture. A little hole in the roof? Why not the great big doors on the front of the building? To regulate the flow? (Oh yes, I have certainly sinned by wishing to control and limit the flow of God’s Holy Spirit.)
I’ve gotten distracted by the notion that the holes were closed each day of the year but one. Of course we can’t keep holes open in our church roofs all year long. I’m wondering and praying about the “Holy Spirit holes” not in our buildings, but in our congregations and in each of us as disciples and in the wider church. Maybe I’m worrying and praying about my own openness to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It’s more than annual. But less than daily.
There’s thunderous risk in the mighty rush of the Holy Spirit. Unexpected, even unwelcome gifts fall upon us with calls to use those gifts in Christ’s service. Unbidden power redirects our lives. The wind of the Spirit is strong enough to change our minds. And change our hearts.
As we prepare to celebrate the Festival of Pentecost, may we pray and pray again, “Come, Holy Spirit!” May we worship and follow Jesus with the “Holy Spirit holes” of our hearts and minds wide open for the wind and the fire, the power and the gifts, the changes and the redirections that God will send for the building and blessing of the Body of Christ.
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister for Eastern Iowa