One of the most popular contemporary Christian songs of the last decade was Hillsong United’s “Oceans.” And it continues to be played in many Churches and worship gatherings. The bridge – which repeats with increasing intensity – is a prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour1
Pentecost Sunday is sometimes referred to as the birthday of the Church. But Pentecost was originally a Jewish harvest festival, like Passover. Passover celebrated the deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt, while Pentecost celebrated the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai.
The giving of the law – the covenant way of life by which the people of Israel would walk with God – is described in Exodus 19:18 as being accompanied by fire and violent earthquake: “Now all of Mount Sinai was wrapped up in smoke, because the LORD had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.”
The violent wind and tongues of fire in our first reading show us that the coming of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the original Pentecost. A new law was given, as St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:3 “…not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are human hearts.” And not only that, but in our Gospel we discover that the Holy Spirit is both the new law as well as the source of forgiveness of sins.
We often tend to think of laws as rules, but the purpose of any law is to point out the way for us to go. All the other laws try to point out the way for us from the outside by commanding or forbidding certain things, but the Holy Spirit alone leads us on the way from within, and brings us back when we go astray. What is the way that the Holy Spirit is pointing out for you to go?
1Crocker, Matt, Joel Houston, and Salomon Lightelm. “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” Hillsong. Accessed May 28, 2023. https://hillsong.com/lyrics/oceans-where-feet-may-fail/.