The following is  a transcript of a “teaching” by Phyllis Tickle presented May 3, 2009 at Mars Hill Bible Church where Emerging Church aka Emergent Church, now morphing into Emergence Christianity, leader Rob Bell is “teaching pastor.”

 TICKLE: Good morning, Mars Hill.

AUDIENCE: Good Morning.

TICKLE: I can’t even begin to tell you how lovely it is to be back here. I…I do a lot of talking around the country and get to be with a lot of parishes and congregations and I don’t think truth…honestly, this I not patronizing, this is truth…I don’t think any has ever moved me uh…the way you did 18 months ago or stayed as dear to my heart. I have some friends among you I have to tell you, there’s a few “shills” out there who are good friends and whose friendship I’ve treasured over the years, but it’s so wonderful to be in a vibrant, worshiping community like you are uh…and so, may God bless you and thank you for letting me come back. I’m delighted to be here.

I’m back here because you are talking about the Holy Spirit uh…which in and of itself is a fairly scary thing to do; I don’t know whether you know that yet or not, but it’s a scary thing to do. Um…it’s a difficult subject and I’m back at the invitation of your clergy because we’re getting ready in your series to talk about the feminine side of the Holy Spirit. Uh…and Rob, and Matt, and your clergy asked if I would come do that…the…they said that the argument for that was that the feminine part of the Holy Spirit should be talked about by a woman instead of a man. And I have to tell you, I love churches who have clergy where the gentlemen understand where they’re way over their limit, you know? (Audience laughter)

So I thought it was just – hooray for you guys – you’re absolutely…you go girl, absolutely…you know? After I got over that piece…I have seven children, you can not be an honest feminist and have seven children, but I try, you know? There’s a certain credibility lapse in there, you know? I never saw a guy that I didn’t think was worth looking at at least twice just to be sure (audience laughter); yeah, which is how you get seven kids (audience laughter) – uh…that and being careless (audience laughter). My problem is they’re all by the same daddy and that takes a world of imagination (audience laughter); none of which has anything to do with the Holy Spirit. Alright? You all calm down.

Now…I…after I got over that feminist kick, I realized also that probably the reason for your invitation has to do with where the bulk of my work has been for the last four or five years at least. The bulk of my work has – and this by the way is going to be a teaching – uh…you know those of you who haven’t…who didn’t get to sleep late enough this morning feel free to go ahead because it’s a teaching, it’s not going to be a sermon. Umm…and the bulk of my work has been in talking about the fact that about every 500 hundred years, Christianity has gone through a mighty upheaval and greatly changed itself; things have just gone like that! And we’re going through one of those right now – the last one was 500 hundred years ago and we called it “The Great Reformation”; this one’s called “The Great Emergence” and I spoke about that 18 months ago when I was here uh…and it’s the area of my study. The one before that was in the eleventh century (1054) and it was “The Great Schism” and the one before that was in the sixth century and it was “The Great Decline and Fall” and the one before that was in the change of the era from before common era to the common era and it’s called “The Great Transformation” uh…we’re hung on “greats”.

None-the-less, as I have dealt with that one of the things one has to face is that the underst…I don’t want to say the “doctrine”, but the understanding, the nature of our engagement as believers with the Holy Spirit has changed markedly with each of those changes; and for us as we enter the “Great Emergence” – we are in the “Great Emergence” uh…that is especially true. And, I said at 9:00 and I will say again, please hear what I am about to say carefully. I…I don’t mind being criticized – well, I do, but I don’t mind too much being criticized for what I really said, but I just hate like everything being criticized for what I didn’t say because you didn’t listen right. If I’m going to offend you, I want to know it beforehand so I can anticipate with pleasure uh…what’s going to happen (audience laughter), but…but the honest…the honest truth of the thing is that the Holy Spirit for two thousand years was not a matter of public conversation. It was not a matter of uh…active engagement always – that is to say that why…and I didn’t say the Holy Spirit wasn’t active – I didn’t say that…the Holy Spirit absolutely was active, but it did not become a thing that you talked about at the grocery store, or that you computed around, or that you thought of that much, until a thing called a thing called “casuistry” happened in 1906. Yes…oh thank God some of you are saying “yes”, okay…bless you my brethren…continue to say yes.

Uh…I’m from the south and you know, every once in a while when it gets going somebody says, “You go, sister!” and I hate coming north because nobody does that…I don’t know what’s wrong with you all. But anyway…or “Tell it like it is, brother!” Uh…the truth of it is when “casuistry”…when “casuistry” happened, Pentecostalism was born into the Post-Pentecostal Christian tradition – that is to say when Pentecostalism came into the Western experience again, the Holy Spirit became the third part of the Trinity – about which we need to know more and we realize we don’t know enough – we began to actively engage the Holy Spirit in a way that we had not done. Now, just as an aside…less we feel bad about this…let me tell you that…that the mystics of the Middle Ages, particularly Joaquim of Fiore most clearly said in a moment of mysticism and he taught thereafter…that there were three ages to Christian history or to Creation’s history, if you will. The first two thousand years were the years of God the Father; and those were the years from the beginning of time to the “Great Transformation”. The next two thousand years would be the years of God the Son; and said Joaquim those years began with the crucifixion and they will go to approximately two thousand. And then, we will enter the last two thousand years in which those will be the years of the Holy Spirit. And if you look at casuistry, and don’t hear what Joaquim had foreseen in the mystic experience, you have to…you have to think about…he saw something, he told us something and then he told us after that by four thousand, the common era, there would be a thousand years of dispensation, and so be it; whether that will be true or not, I don’t know. But, we have a heritage for understanding, that we are beginning another two thousand years, in which – if you will – the part of the Trinity that we are asked to most intimately know is the Holy Spirit. And so I think (I hope, anyway) that’s part of the reason I’m here uh… and if we are going to try to talk about the Holy Spirit and her…the Holy Spirit’s feminine side, we have to go way back; we have to go back to the Book of Genesis. And Bob, if you’ll put up a slide…I’ve got…I can’t read backwards…I could never learn to read backwards. Let me read it to you…is it up? Yes.

This is what the Book of Genesis says…you’ve read this…I’m not going to tell you anything you haven’t heard many times; I’m just going to hopefully rearrange it a little bit. This is the Book of Genesis, it says, “Then God said, let us make humankind in our image according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth and over ever creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created humankind in His image. In the image of God He created them, male and female, He created them.”

Got that? How many zillion times have you read that? There are two things that are important here. What’s with the let us? You don’t say, “Let us” you say, “Let me”. This is the beginning of the doctrine of the Trinity; God on the day of creation speaks in the plural, He speaks as to another part of Himself and He says, “Let us make humankind.” And then, “Let us make (second point) humankind in our own image”, which God did and…male and female…in the image of God. It’s the beginning of our understanding that God is both male and female…God is both Father and Mother…God is both man and woman, if you will, in a sort of divine way. It’s the beginning of our understanding, first of all, that there’s more than one thing under the name of God; and that it is both male and female.

Now, let us talk about that more than one thing. Judaism, when it got to the scripture as it matured had a great deal of difficulty trying to figure out what to do with the “let us”. If you actually read exegesis…out of Genesis…out of Jewish tradition, you find a lot of racket, a lot of words spilled about what’s with the “let us”? And Judaism began to develop the notion that there were other parts of God that were not immediately the Creator, and that somehow had a feminine role. The most prominent one, the one we know best is “Sophia”. If you read the Book of Proverbs, there’s that wonderful…I love the poetry of Proverbs…in which this female character “Sophia” a woman, says, “I am wisdom and I was with God before the first of the things God made, and I was with God when He created the earth and the heavens; when he made the seas run and the rivers rise, I was there delighting God, being handmaiden to God. And the Jews said, “Ah, so the feminine side was there at creation and we call her “wisdom”. And that’s true because as we all know women have gotten more of that than men (audience laughter)…no, never mind…whatever…anyway, wisdom. And then the Jews also said, “And there is also a glory to God…there is a wonder to God…there is a gleaming to God that we cannot know…a presence – if you will – that we cannot identify; and you and I think of the Holy Spirit in many ways as the presence of God and the Jew call that the “Shekinah” (or the Shekinah – pronounces word 2 different ways), which simply means the ineffable or that which can’t be breath, which is God…the beauty – if you will – of God and it’s also female. They spoke also of Ruach, which is the b’nefesh – the “breath of God”. So, the Jewish tradition (Jewish faith out of which we came), managed to understand and to convey to all of its members (and still does) that there are…there are…there’s a part of God that is deeply feminine and deeply difficult to get at; that’s not necessarily Trinitarianism, however.

And Trinitarianism is where we have to go next…and the easiest way to go into Trinitarianism – for me anyway over the years – has been this: There is a thing…there is a thing called H2O. You’ve never seen “H” in your life…you’ve sure never seen two of them at once. You’ve probably have never seen “O”, but we speak of H2O all of the time. We cannot know H2O other than it’s there. What we can know is H2O in particular situations and circumstances playing a particular role depending on where we are at the time we engage H2O. It is either ice, or it is water, or it is steam. Is either the whole of H2O? No. Is either the exclusive thing about H2O? No. H2O is the ineffable. H2O we cannot know. We cannot know God, except as a role is played and as our circumstances change. And so we know God the Creator whom we call Father in the Christian tradition; or we know God the Redeemer whom we call Jesus the Christ in our Christian tradition; or we can know God the Sustainer whom we call the Holy Spirit (or the Holy Ghost – if you will)…the steam of the Trinity…that’s basic Trinitarian theology…that’s basic Christian theology. And now, please hear me well on this one, too because I want to be real sure that what I say is…is…is what you hear.

In this day and time – and one of the things about increasing globalization, and media, and information swap – we’re hearing more and more about the fact that all religions are the same…that all religions go the same place…that all religions are very alike…that probably they all speak to the same God, and they differ from each other simply because they’re in different cultural contexts. There is a degree of truth that says that most religions share a common wisdom…that is to say we want the same things for humanity, we believe in some of the same moral value sets…absolutely true, but religions differ in their mysteries; and it is the mysteries we must hold to ourselves as Christians and say, “this is what makes us Christian.” And, of the two or three defining mysteries that mark us as Christian, one is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit or of the Trinity. It’s the fact that we are Trinitarian; that we understand God presents to us and the reason that matters is not to have arguments with your friends about whether one God or many Gods are in it…none…or many religions…it’s not about that. The thing that matters is – and please hear me well – we become what we fall down before and worship; and we, as Christians, worship the Trinity. We worship the ineffable H2O, whom we engage and who allows…who engages us on three different levels.

And so, where is the beginning of the Trinity doctrine? If indeed the Jewish tradition came along and took the Genesis section we just read and simply proliferated – if you will – a whole lot of feminine images and gave them names…where do we come off with the Trinity? Good question, you didn’t ask it, but I did…alright. Let us go now to Genesis 18, if you will, Bob. You’ve read this one, too. The scene is the oak trees at Mamren or Mamre – those of you who have been to the Holy Land know that what Mam…what is called Mamre here – actually we call now Hebron; uh…it’s just to the east and slightly to the south of Jerusalem…you can go to Hebron now and still see the graves of Abraham and Sarah…where they are purportedly are buried. And, uh…when the story opens Isaac is not born yet and God is about to tell Sarah that she’s going to conceive a child, who will be Isaac, out of whom there will come salvation to God’s people and the world will be blessed. And so Abram is sitting out in front of his tent one day in Mamre where he’s encamped and this happened: “The Lord appeared to Abram/Abraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent’s entrance to meet them and bowed down to the ground, and he said, ‘My Lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought and wash your feet and rest yourselves under the trees. Let me bring a little bread that you may refresh yourselves and after that, you may pass on since you have come to your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’” What’s important about that? Well, clearly there are three people present, right? It says three men…and note how the section opens…”the Lord”…unity…”the Lord” appeared. And note how Abraham addresses the three of them…”my Lord”…not the “Lords”…”my Lord”. And Christian theology teaches that this is the beginning of our understanding of the Trinity.

Now, I spoke a minute ago of my work in – I suppose – in church history and in the period of 500…the cycling of 500 years of change. When Christianity began, when the Day of Pentecost came, when the Spirit came down and they began to speak ecstatically and they also spoke in known tongues, and they went from that room as speakers of Greek, or speakers of Latin, or speakers of Syriac language or some variance thereof, there were three grand divisions; and when they went from that room, they spoke those languages, those three languages or those three big variants of those three languages. And so, by the first century…the end of the first century, we get the beginning of what is called “Syriac Christianity”, “Orthodox” or “Greek Christianity”, and “Latin” or “Western Christianity”. Most of you and I…most of you (and I certainly) are a product of “Western Christianity” or of “Latin”. Those divisions were based on the language out of which scripture was written and the language in which people heard it; whether you were far-eastern you heard it in Syriac, whether you were middle-euro…middle-eastern and you heard it in Greek or whether you were western and you heard it in Latin – you heard it in the language which was nearest to the one you spoke. And so, those three grand divisions happened.

“Syriac Christianity” or in what we now call “Orthodox Christianity”, or “Greek” if you will, began to develop a different understanding about the Holy Spirit than that which we developed in the west. By the time you get to 1405, you get a very clear understanding in Syriac or Orient or Coptic or Egyptian….whatever you want to call it Christianity and in “Greek Christianity” whether you call it “Russian Orthodox” or “Greek Orthodox” or “Antiochian Orthodox” it doesn’t matter, you’ve got a much different understanding of the Holy Spirit; and it’s based on what happened at the oak trees of Mamre.

I want Bob to put up, if he will, something that will be very familiar to you – an icon is used in “Orthodox” and “Syriac Christianity” as a way…it’s a text…it is to be read, it is not a picture to look at…it is a text to be read; as surely as you read the Book of Genesis…as surely as you read Chapter 18 and see what happened at the oak trees of Mamre. This originally – it’s now called “The Trinity” – this originally when a man named Andrei Rublev – this is the most famous icon by the way in Christian history, and most of you…one of the things about the “Great Emergence” is that the divisions between east and west are slowly coming together and this morning after 9:00, I was so interested to hear so many of that…uh…those congregates who had some awareness of “Eastern Christianity” – one of whom was even wearing a shirt with the patriarch on the front – uh…and were aware that one of the things as we go into this “Great Emergence” is the coming together and the coming back to what original Christianity taught. And also, the coming in of icons…this icon, now, originally had Abraham and Sarah in it. Ultimately before he finished it, he took Abraham and Sarah out, but this is the three who came and met with Abraham; this is the Lord at the tables in front of Mamre…I can’t do it backwards necessarily, but if you will look…if you will look over here far to your right, or far too your left (I’m sorry)…far to your left…what you see is God the Creator. If you look in the middle what you see is God the Redeemer, and if you look far to the right you see God the Sustainer. They’re sitting outside of Abraham’s tent in Hebron and you will notice first of all that each has a staff in his hand and each is winged. Leading immediately to the question, “Why would anybody with wings need a walking stick?” (Audience laughter) Um…even God’ more sensible than that, surely. Uh…and it’s because, of course, we no longer regard a stick as a…as something you hit other people with or as a sign of authority. Uh…back then, it wasn’t a walking stick, it is a sign of their authority. Likewise, each has on blue; some part of its (if you would allow me that rhetoric – that neutral pronoun) of its clothing has some blue in it. You will notice that the figure God, the Creator over to the left, has very little blue showing because He’s covered in the “Shekinah” or the “Shekinah” (re-pronounces word). The gold there, which no longer glistens as it did five to six hundred years ago…the gold there is the shimmering presence of God the Creator; so very little blue is shown. You will notice also, He’s not touching the table in any way. When you go to the middle and you see God the Redeemer, notice several things – notice first of all there’s a gold stripe over his shoulder; the gold stripe proves His kingship…it’s there as a sign of His kingship. Also you’ll notice, He, too has blue, but his other garment is brown; indicating He is of the earth. Uh…dust we are and to dust we shall return…we are scooped up out of the earth…and so He wears brown an indication of that. Notice also that He has two fingers on the table. Those two fingers are there to signal you that He is of double nature – fully man and fully God…uh…fully God – and so thus, the two fingers. Uh…you will notice uh…also that in front of Him, there’s a bowl…a chalice. Very shortly, when I quit…if I ever quit uh…we will come to this table and we will drink from that chalice uh…and that is the chalice of His death. But, if you go all the way over here, you see God the Sustainer, which rhetoric I like so much better. And here you see that the Sustainer has his, or her, or its hands fully on the table of life…fully there…fully present and is dressed in green – the color of life; for we will come to understand that the most feminine part of the Holy Spirit is that it is the giver of life and we will so declare in our creeds – “the Giver of Life” – and thus the green is there.

If you look behind them…behind God the Creator…you will see the Temple or what was…it’s supposed to suggest the temple. If you look behind God the Redeemer, you will see a tree…it is an oak tree…and it was part of the oak tree to Mamre that he left in when he took Abraham and Sarah out. It is also is said to represent the tree on which he would be crucified. And then on beyond, you will see a mountain behind God the Sustainer; it is Sinai. Uh…it is Sinai and all the mountains after that: Hermon and Tabor and Calvary…all the mountains in which God has spoken through human history. That’s how our Orthodox brothers and sisters…that’s how two thirds of Christianity understands the Trinity. And, I offer it to you as a kind of (if you will) introduction to what we’re going to do next. Because, what we’re going to do next is, we’re going to look at something called a Nicene Creed and you all say it from time to time. This is the creed almost…almost…I can’t read backwards…this is the creed…is it up there? Yes. Uh…that was more or less like the one that the early church adopted…it’s the more that bothers you here. Alright. Will you say it with me together? (Reading) Affirm your faith (Stopping briefly) – and as you say it instead of just reading a screen for the sake of reading a screen be aware that thousands and thousands and thousands of our fore bearers in the faith have died in order that we might have the privilege of sitting here calmly, happily, comfortably and reading off a screen a bunch of words – they are not words! This…this…this is our faith…this is Amen! Amen, and may we never forget it. And so, reverently together may we read the Nicene Creed.

(Reading again with the audience) I believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God, very God begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made. Who for us men, for our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried and the third day He rose again according to the scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead whose kingdom shall have no end. (And here it comes) I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together, is worshipped and glorified. Who spoke by the prophets; and I believe one holy catholic and apostolic church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

That creed has been said in the west since about 600, maybe even 500; that creed is not the one that’s said in the rest of the Christian world. One of the things that tripped the “Great Trans….uh…the “Great Decline and Fall” in the sixth century and the breaking point in the “Great Schism” of the eleventh century was a section of that creed. Can you show us just that 4th paragraph Bob, and see if we can show the difference? There it is. Read it and see if you know what you’ve got here differently – (reads) “And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (watch it)…who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together”…See it…what’s gone…is it gone? Look at…is it still up there (audience member answers, “yes”) Awww, c’mon Bob (laughing) There it is! Okay? Here it is – see it? (Reads) “And from the Son is gone…it’s called – because we’re Latin speakers….because we or we were originally…because we’re “Latin Christianity”…it’s called the Filioque. “Que”
Q-U-E is the Latin word for “and” or one of the Latin words for “and”; and “filio” means “from the Son”. Filioque, that phrase, “and from the Son” and it makes all the difference in the world in how we see the Holy Spirit. Because, what originally you’re saying is, “here is God the Father and here is – as the Rublev icon shows – and here is the Son, and here is the Sustainer. Now what we have done is we have said that God the Father and God the Son are here, and the Spirit comes out of them. We have diminished…and it was the fir…one of the major errors the west made – for what it’s worth, and the reason it’s worth talking to you about this morning is the fact that the filioque is now being removed bit by bit from Latin services, from Protestant services, from services all over the west because we realized the error. Because what we did where originally we had the triangle like this…then suddenly we got an upside-down triangle and we’ve got God the Father and God the Son and sort of dwindling out after them came God the Spirit. And what that did in the west was it diminished the role of the Spirit; and it wasn’t long – and I challenge you to be honest with yourselves – it wasn’t long before it became God the Father…gave rise to God the Son, who gave rise to God the Holy Spirit…a kind of totem pole or hierarchy in which the Spirit mattered less than did the other two. And, if you’re honest have there been some parts of your life when you so configured…when you so thought…when you honestly thought that maybe it was like this, instead of like Rublev’s wonderful notion of how it was at Mamre.

And so, in a strange way part of the feminine part of the Holy Spirit in the west became the unfortunate part of it – that is, it was less than…it wasn’t as powerful as male was, it wasn’t as powerful as the Father and Son were; it was kind of less. And that’s the reason quietly church after church, large body after large body, the Church of Canada has just removed the filioque from all Canadian services. The Vatican has now removed it from those services that are current…in Latin…in places where there is any exposure to Greek Orthodoxy or any kind of cultural context with the Greek situation. Gradually, we’re getting back to what is…is that wonderful Trinity of Rublev.

And so it is…and so it is that we come then to a Trinity that is now increasingly what it was at Mamre – all three parts of the Godhead; and what part of it is feminine and what part of it is not? Well certainly the wisdom, certainly the glory, certainly the beauty, but also Judaism had (and the early church had) a part of the Spirit that was feminine that we lost and I want to show you this one just briefly – can you put the Bat Kol up? If you go home and Google or – it used to be (before Google) you could get up here and pontificate all the time and not…you know…give a whole lot of caveats – now every fool in the place goes and Googles this to see if you knew what you were talking about, which is really unfortunate. (Audience laughter)

So if you Google…it really cramps your style…if you Google, you may find her called the “Bat Kol” (K-O-L – she’s spelled both ways). She drops out of Christian heritage…she’s coming back interestingly enough…I’ve been fascinated that Emergent Christianity is beginning to talk about her again. The Bat Kol is the daughter of the voice of God. Judaism says – although it’s beginning to doubt it a little bit – but Judaism traditionally (up until fairly recently) held that after the death of the prophets (the great prophets and the minor prophets), after the death of Malachi, God withdrew His voice – the voice of God is a feminine thing – withdrew His voice – one of the feminine things about the Spirit in Judaism – simply because the people had sinned so much that He was offended with them. And so, instead of speaking to them through human form…instead of speaking to them through uh…prophets and through ecstatic worshippers, He chose instead just simply to withdraw and allow them to become wise. And so, wisdom became the substitute for God’s voice; for direct inspiration. And it is said in Jewish thinking that the voice of God was mournful for people and loved us much; loved us as a lover loves…and because there was such love, the voice of God sent her daughter the Bat Kol. And the Bat Kol came to speak with men…and they didn’t ever see anybody…there was no prophet making the words…they would hear the words behind them…or they would hear the words over them, but the Bat Kol would be speaking the words of God; for the voice of God loved us and wished us still to know.

If you’ve ever read in the Gospel of John – and I am so encouraged that I find more and more of young Christians who will point to that verse and say, “I don’t understand this verse” – there’s a verse in there in which Jesus says to them, “And after I am gone you will receive the Holy Spirit.” And St. John says in that verse “…for the Spirit had not yet come upon them for Christ had not…yes…some of you were saying…yes…and you wonder, “So, the Spirit is not yet here?” The Spirit hasn‘t been here since we buried ol’ Malachi (not that we cared a lot about him)? But…we’re waiting for Pentecost? Okay. I could live with that if you will tell me who spoke when Christ came out of the river Jordan. What was the voice at the baptism that said, “This is my beloved Son”? Who spoke at the Mount of Transfiguration to the Apostles, who said then, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him”? Who was that? Christianity taught it’s the Bat Kol. It’s the voice…the daughter of the voice of God still speaking to them because it is not until Pentecost that we receive the Spirit. And at Pentecost (which comes on the 31st of this month) at Pentecost the great gift of Pentecost is no more need for the Bat Kol. No more need for wisdom per se…no more need for the Shekinah…no more need for all of those things, because the Spirit now is among us actively. The Spirit comes in for the first time…and we don’t have to be prophets…we can be just Jane and Joe public. We just have to be believers. And it is the Spirit that comes and then it is the Spirit that is indeed the “Giver of Life”.

Now, I want…I want to read umm…the next slide here as we talk about…if we will look at what John 14, which is our appointed scripture is for today…see, 40 minutes into it I’m going to now get around to the appointed scripture, alright…uh…thus it is always. I’m a failed academic and I think in 55 minute sound bites, so you know? You’ll get to supper, don’t worry about it. Um…this is our appointed uh…scripture; and I want to read the very last paragraph of it. Jesus uh…answered him – he’s answering Judas, are you to that one? You may have to flip a slide; I’m jumping it two or three. Jesus answered him (in speaking to Judas), “Those who love me will keep my word and my Father will love them (and get this) and we will come to them and make our home with them.” The most feminine…the absolute most feminine of gestures; it is the mother who makes the home by and large, usually. “We will make our home with them. Whoever does not love me, does not keep my words and the word that you hear is not mine, but from the Father who sent me, and I will say these things to you while I was still with you, but the advocate (and the Greek word is paracletes – it is not a noun, it therefore does not even have grammatical gender theoretically – it actually does if you’re looking – but it is…it is a verbal – it means that which goes along beside). We speak of parallel lines; those are lines that go beside. Paracletes…that which goes beside – “clete” is go…paracletes…that which goes beside us; that which like a mother holds our hands…that which speaks…do you know…do you remember Rudyard Kipling’s uh…famous poem uh…from high school: “If I were hanged on the highest hill, mother of mine, oh mother of mine; I know whose love would reach me still mother of mine, oh mother of mine. If I were drowned in the deepest sea mother of mine oh mother of mine; I know whose love would come down to me, mother of mine, oh mother of mine. If I were damned in body and soul, mother of mine, oh mother of mine; I know whose prayers would make me whole, mother of mine, oh mother of mine. That’s what Jesus is talking about here…that’s the paraclete; this is the side of God who loved us and who made us, and who continues to sustain us.

The word paraclete is used five times in the New Testament…and only in the New Testament; and it is used only by John. Four of them are in the scripture you have been studying from this chapter John 14; the last one occurs in the first letter of St. John uh…in the second chapter – if you’ll put that up. (Reading) “My little children I’m writing these things to you so that you may not sin. For if anyone does sin (we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. We have a paracletes with the Father (there is the word again) Christ the righteous and He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins; and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world”, which takes us back to H20, because here John is saying paracletes…the same concept that makes home…the same concept…the same word…the same understanding of God who advocates for us is also found in the Redeemer.

And so, we are back to H20; it is an ineffable that we cannot know and we know it in different circumstances according to our circumstances and in different roles according to what the H20 is doing and how it’s presenting to us. And so, what we have…what we have is a precious treasure my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ. The treasure of Trinitarianism and understanding of a mystery we cannot possibly understand, but before which we fall. And of a God who is not a patriarchal God, who is not some kind of war God or storm God, or some kind of loud noise God, but a God who from the very beginning said, “My image male and female…our image male and female” And who, from Pentecost on (as the Bat Kol was no longer needed) who from Pentecost on came and entered us…came into us…lives in us…and we are the container thereof. And it is an erotic relationship…and that, too is part of the feminine nature of it…it is an erotic relationship and the most intimate one that a Christian or a human being can ever have. I think that was best expressed (or at least for me) by St. Augustine in about 410 of the common era…at that time, the whole definition of the…of the Holy Spirit was up for redefinition. It was the first time that they were really struggling with how you define Holy Spirit and how feminine it is…and…and St. Augustine came late to Christ, uh…he had lived for many years with a mistress, had a son…an illegitimate son by her uh…and had been a bit of a nare-do-well, and through his mother’s deep praying and constant praying, he was converted to Christianity and became one of the great saints of the Christian faith. And, in his maturity, he wrote a thing called, “The Confessions of St. Augustine” and here’s what he has to say about the thing we’ve been talking about…because beauty ultimately is the most characteristic of all feminine characteristics.

And this is what Augustine said: “Late have I loved you oh beauty ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved you; you were within me, but I was outside. It was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness, I plunged into the lovely things that you created. You were with me, but I was not with you; created things kept me from you…yet, if they had not been in you, they would not have been at all. You call, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shown, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath. And now I pant for you; I have tasted you…now I hunger and thirst more for you. You touched me and I burn for your peace.

That’s the love affair we’re invited to…it’s the love affair we have to keep. And in many ways when we come to the table we’re about to come to, what we are doing…on the night before He was betrayed, He took bread; and He broke it and gave it to them and said, “This is my body broken for you”. And afterward, He took the cup and He said, “This is the cup of salvation, the cup of the New Covenant; it is my blood shed for you for the remission of sins. Take this in remembrance of me”. And so we…and as oft as you do it you shall drink the Lord’s death until He comes again. As we’re about to do this, let us remember what we are doing. We not only celebrate that death and that promise of return, but we are feeding by eating God (which is what we’re doing here)…by eating the body and blood of our God, we are feeding the God within us; for as we take those elements, the Spirit also feeds within us and is reinvigorated as he, or she, or it is by our faith. (Online source)

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