I put a dove on the top of my Christmas tree this year. The grandbeans wondered why. I told them, “just because.” Because I hadn’t found the chief angel yet when I decorated the tree. Because I had already hung a chorus of angels on the lower branches. But mostly because the Spirit of God, the third element of the Trinity, often represented by a dove, is as essential to the Christmas story as the child in the manger.
The Holy Spirit, sometimes called the wind of God, figures strongly in the Bible. He blew life into creation. Ignited the burning bush in the desert. Piled up the waters of the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross on dry land.
The same powerful gust opened prison doors to set prisoners free. Loosened tongues to speak fluently in languages they didn’t know a moment earlier. And even before that, as a less obvious (but no less powerful) breeze, the Holy Spirit blew Jesus Christ to earth to take up residence as an embryo in the body of a young virgin from Galilee.
The Spirit of God always changes things, if we’re willing. Mary was. To the angel of God, delivering the message of her pregnancy and the name of the child, the soon-to-be mother of the Messiah responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me. (Luke 8:31)”
Mary followed the wind. In words both simple and sublime, she committed the “most extraordinary act of faith that a woman ever consented to accomplish.” (Pulpit Commentary).
When I look at the dove on the top of my tree, I think of that. Of the gust of God that ushered Jesus Christ into our universe through Mary’s submissive spirit. Of our world’s desperate need for more people willing to follow the Holy Spirit of God into unknown territory – including myself, so often fearful and faithless. And of the need to pray for a Mary spirit.
It’s not a Christmas carol, but the dove on the top of my tree reminds me to sing…
“Holy Spirit, Wind of God, blow on me. With your power, fill my life and make me free. Wash away my guilt and sin. Give me light and truth within. Holy Spirit, wind of God, blow on me.
“Holy Spirit, Wind of God, fill this place. Meet our deepest needs for power by your grace. Though our enemies assail, Your strong hand will never fail. Holy Spirit, wind of God, fill this place.
“Holy Spirit, Wind of God, make us whole. Body, soul and spirit under your control. Then one day, our journey done, fill our sails and take us home. Holy Spirit, wind of God, make us whole.
“Holy Spirit, Wind of God, move this land. Give this people resurrection, make them stand. Set your blood-bought church aflame. Glorify your mighty name. Holy Spirit, wind of God, move this land. Amen.” – (Bruce Robertson)