This past Monday evening, Chicago lived up to its name as the “windy city” (although that name originated not as a description of the climate in Chicago but of the politics!) with wind gusts reaching 40-50 mph. A good night to be teaching about the Holy Spirit!
Sure enough, just as I told the young people that we would be learning about the Holy Spirit, a huge gust of wind blew through an open window, blew papers off of the tables in the room and blew open the door to the room! I couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic introduction!
The evening had other highlights as well:
- We reviewed Jn 3:16 with a short quiz and then I introduced the term INCARNATION: Jesus becoming flesh and asked what holiday we celebrate this on. After a brief moment, one young man correctly responded, “Christmas.”
- I then played Joan Osborne’s song “One of Us” in which she asks the question, “what if God was one of us?” After the song, I asked the young people how they would respond to her as a Christian. Interestingly enough, 4 or 5 of them responded with statements about what it would be like if God were one of us. I said, “that’s nice, but you’re all speaking in the future tense as though this is something that may happen. As Christians, we believe this already happened!” I pointed to the word INCARNATION on the board and explained that this is what we beleive about Jesus: he (God) became “one of us.” Several of them looked genuinely pleased to know this!
- I said “we’ve talked about the Father and the Son so far, any guess as to who we’ll talk about next?” One young person answered without hesitation, “the Holy Spirit.”
- After the “mighty wind” experience that I described above 🙂 we did a short activity in which they made their own “sail boats” out of a piece of styrofoam, a toothpick, and a piece of construction paper (for the sail). Using straws, they blew their boats across a baking pan filled with water. I talked about how a sail boat can do nothing on its own but relies on the wind and compared that to how we cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit: we can do nothing on our own, but with the Spirit of God, we can do many wonderful things.
- We read from the Finding God text book about the Holy Spirit, with an emphasis on the Spirit as the breath of God (I used this to explain why we always start our sacred space prayer by taking deep breaths…so that we are reminded of the life of the Spirit within us).
- I introduced the word ADVOCATE and said this is another way of understanding the Holy Spirit. I then had my aide, Lucy, talk about how, as a nurse, she advocates for patients. (I’ll go in to detail about this tomorrow…it was really special).
- The young people then took their vigil candles and went off to sacred space. After they took some deep breaths and quieted down, I played a Mariah Carey song “Anytime You Need a Friend” that expresses what it means to be a steadfast advocate for someone and encouraged them to listen as if the Spirit were speaking these words to them. Following the song, I guided them to talk to the Spirit, asking for guidance, help, strength, and courage.
- Following sacred space (about 10 minutes), we wrapped up by talking about the Trinity. I did my little demonstration of water, ice, and steam to help understand how, in the Trinity, we have 3 distinct Persons and yet One God. We ended by having them bless themselves with Holy Water in the name of the Trinity.