Happy Moltmann Monday! Today’s reading comes from The Source of Life, which is one of Moltmann’s lighter reads intended for everyone. The excerpt is from the very beginning, where he is simply (and beautifully) describing the Holy Spirit:
The gift and the presence of the Holy Spirit is the greatest and most wonderful thing which we can experience- we ourselves, the human community, all living things and this earth. For with the Holy Spirit it is not just one random spirit that is present, among all the many good and evil spirits that there are. It is God himself, the creative and life-giving, redeeming and saving God. Where the Holy Spirit is present…we feel and taste, we touch and see our life in God and God in our life…The Holy Spirit is the unrestricted presence of God in which our life wakes up, becomes wholly and entirely living, and is endowed with the energies of life…
We continually experience the Holy Spirit as both a divine counterpart to whom we call, and a divine presence in which we call- as the space we live in. There is nothing extraordinary about this. As children we experienced our mothers as both too- as a presence surrounding us and a counterpart calling us…
People who ask for the Holy Spirit to come to us…don’t want to flee into heaven or to be snatched away into the next world. They have hope for their hearts, their community and this earth. We don’t pray ‘Let us come into your kingdom’ either. We pray ‘Your kingdom come on earth as is in heaven.’
I want to point out 3 quick things. First, let’s realize that despite all of the flowery language about the Spirit awakening us to the energies of life, that does not exclude things that may be difficult or challenging. When the Source of Life, the Spirit, awakens us, we are no longer asleep to things that matter. We are no longer blind to the ways we have hindered the life of others, or the lives of others have been hindered by us. This is why the Spirit is a Comforter, but also a tempest and a storm. The Spirit can energize us to face our demons, to work on our relationships, to seek reconciliation. And those things indeed point us to life, and to wholeness, but they are not easy things. Very often, they are hard things, painful things. When we pray to the Spirit, we should expect to be awakened to clearer sight. It is good, and necessary. But sometimes what we see makes us wish we would’ve stayed in ignorance.
Second, I love how Moltmann so beautifully describes the Spirit as the one to whom we pray and the one in whom we pray. Honestly, we can ponder that all day long, that fullness of God. But I love that he quickly pulls us down from the clouds about it and says, that’s really not anything extraordinary. We’ve experienced this in a very simple way before, when we have called for our mothers as small children who do not yet understand we are separate from our mothers. One of my seminary professors, Jim Loder, wrote an entire book about the intertwined spiritual and mental/physical development of the human child, and he saw it the same way. It makes me wonder if part of what Jesus meant when he said we are to become like little children is this simplicity of fullness, that we are surrounded by God and not separate from God, even as we call out to God.
Lastly, as a way of reminding us of the first point again (namely that awakening us is not all kittens and roses), Moltmann reminds us that when we pray, we pray for the world to be changed. We pray for this earth to be transformed into Jesus’ kingdom. That is a calling to aliveness, to wholeness, to awakening, where all of creation lives into its highest purposes. That may sound idealistic (God’s purposes nearly always do) but it’s incredibly hard work.
As you go about your Monday, I pray too that the Spirit will give you hope for your heart, your community and this earth. I pray we would all be brave enough to be awakened.