In a small Congregational Church in South Butler, New York, a church that is a predecessor church of the United Church of Christ, something amazing happened on September 15, 1853. A young woman named Antoinette Brown was ordained into the Christian ministry. A church had done something people weren’t even talking about doing very much. They had ordained a woman into the ministry.
The Spirit had moved.
A couple of years ago I heard a minister, not from my own denomination, refer to the Holy Spirit as ‘He,’ and I sat wondering what planet this man had come from.
The Hebrew word for spirit is Ruah which is definitely a feminine noun. The coming of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is very distinctly a remarkable instance of the coming of the divine feminine.
The Hebrew word for God is YHWH, literally translated as “I am.” We use the pronoun “He” in reference to God Abba, literally, “Daddy,” and gives us a sense of God as a Heavenly Father. For me, who had a loving Dad, there is no real problem with this. For people who struggled with their fathers, this can be a major issue. Sadly, for many, being a father is a biological thing and they never get around to being Dad.
Jesus, of course, was a male. We refer to Jesus as ‘He’ and do so appropriately.
But the Holy Spirit is ‘She.’ The Holy Spirit moves in our midst and reveals the feminine side of God in creative, imaginative, and amazing loving ways. The Holy Spirit inspires, sustains, and nurtures us in amazingly profound ways each and every day.
Today is Pentecost and the Spirit moves in the church, often in scary ways. The Holy Spirit, not unlike a loving mother, teaches us to walk, talks to us, and challenges us each day. The Holy Spirit is the nurturing presence in our lives each and every day. The Holy Spirit also terrifies the organized church! When the Holy Spirit comes through things change and things get disrupted.
Things happen like they happened in September of 1853. People listen and do something profound and different.
As people gather to Worship as Christians today, let’s be mindful of the coming of the Holy Spirit in unique ways; and when we celebrate with those women who have followed the same path as Antoinette Brown let us celebrate and be glad. They are proof the Holy Spirit is alive and well and in our midst; and some are still listening!