We live in a world that is very material. Our very language speaks in material terms, so it is very hard for us to speak of Spirit. Yet we have not totally lost all language of the spirit. In football we speak of the spirit of a club or a spirited performance. We speak of ‘spirited’ people. One of the ways that helps one think of the Holy Spirit is that of the Jewish idea of Shekinah.
The word ‘Shekinah’ does not itself appear in the Bible. It comes from the time of the Rabbis after the canon had come to be. It means a dwelling place. It is God’s presence. It comes from commentaries on the Scriptures.
God accompanied his people in their journey through the desert. He came eventually to dwell in the Temple. When Jerusalem was destroyed and the people were exiled, the glory of the Lord left the Temple and now dwelt with his people. We can see this presence of God in his people when we read:
“In all their afflictions he was afflicted” (Is 63:8f); “I am with him in trouble” (Ps 91:5).
The knowledge that God was suffering with his people was a great consolation and gave the people hope.
It is the same for us today.
In the Christian idea of the Holy Spirit the Spirit is the presence of God himself. It is also God’s empathy and compassion for us. He identifies himself with the people he loves. In the Shekinah God showed his will to love and this helps us understand that the Holy Spirit embraces what was said of the Shekinah.
Where does the Spirit live – St. Paul tells us:
“… do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit with you, whom you have from God” (1 Cor 6:19f).
The word Shekinah means God’s dwelling and now in St. Paul we are the dwelling place of God.
All humanity is sacred. Our call on this day is to discover the Spirit within and live our sacredness in the Spirit. All people are sacred including you and me.