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The Holy Spirit

By John A. Huffman Jr.

Let's never forget that the Holy Spirit is not an "it." The Holy Spirit is a person. God is three persons.

The word "persona" in Latin literally means a mask. It is a word that comes from ancient drama, in particular, comedy. The characters were standardized. Each comedy had a set of characters who appeared and reappeared under different names and in different situations in every play. The characters wore masks, and the masks were also standardized so that the minute a character came on the stage you could tell who he was by the mask he was wearing. If we connect the word person with that idea, we get the helpful picture that three persons in the Trinity represent three parts of what God plays in the drama of creation, redemption and the sustenance of life as we live it. God in this divine drama plays the part of Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. As God the Father, He is Creator. As God the Son, He is Redeemer. As God the Holy Spirit, He is Sustainer. Does this help you?

Remember, we are simply trying to approximate some idea of how we can understand the triune God, the One who ultimately is beyond our full understanding. So we try to do this with the use of analogies such as this one of the masks.

Perhaps you have heard the analogy of the candle. It is one, yet it has the wax, the wick and the flame. That is unity, yet diversity within that unity. The breakdown on that analogy is we are dealing with an inanimate object, and one dare not push it too far, limiting God the Father to wax, the Son to wick and God the Holy Spirit to flame. We are simply trying to show how you can have unity with distinct diversity of function within that unity.

Three weeks ago, I was at the 90th birthday party for my dear mother. I stood in the middle of that lovely retirement home atrium, momentarily caught up in my own personal musings. There was the buffet table, loaded with good food. There was my mother, standing as the central person in the reception line. There was my Father, sitting next to her in his wheelchair. Only God knows the levels of his awareness as he sat lovingly by his dear wife, the dementia not enabling him to express in any linear ways his thoughts. There were scores of people, some children and great grandchildren, other relatives, friends and acquaintances, representing every era of their lifetime.

And there I was. Occasionally, I would catch my mother's eye and she would smile. Occasionally, I would catch the eye of my wife, Anne, as she vivaciously greeted people, and with some entered into intense conversation. Occasionally, I would catch the eye of my sister, Miriam. Occasionally, I would catch the eye of my daughter, Carla, and my daughter, Janet. Then I would catch the eye of a former college professor or a fellow student or colleague in ministry. As we stood there, I realized that I was one unified human being, but a different person to each of these. In my mother's glance, I could sense the feel of the woman who birthed me and, to some degree, has me over-idealized. Thank God for mothers. I am her son. Then I would catch the occasional glance of Anne, who knows me so well and loves me with all my strengths and weaknesses. I am her husband. To Miriam, I will always be a brother. God only knows what crazy mix of feelings Carla and Janet have. To them, I am their father. And that former college professor will forever see me as his student. I am still one, yet I am many persons. There is great diversity in the way I am perceived and the way I have functioned through the years to each of these other persons. Yet, at the very heart and core, I am and always will be, in this life and the next, one human being by the name of John Huffman.

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