Fire of Your Love

 

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fire of your love

I’ve often struggled against thinking of the Holy Spirit as a sidekick to the Father and the Son, rather than the third Person of the Trinity, and I’m reasonably sure I’m not alone.  After all, He’s mostly behind the scenes in Scripture.  He doesn’t really have any dialogue. And the imagery is all over the place: A dove? A tongue of fire? Beams of light shooting down from the heavens? 

Who exactly is the Holy Spirit, the Person? What does He do? I pondered these questions as I also pondered the far less profound (but still kind of pressing) question of what image I could paint to accompany a new song for Pentecost.

I started thinking of the prayer that opens the Pentecost liturgy: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. 

The prayer struck me. What the Holy Spirit does and who He is are the same: love that fills, creates, and renews. 

In response to this inspiration, I painted two images. The first you’ve seen as the cover art for “Fire of Your Love.”  It’s modeled after a fire-and-ice rose set against a dark background.  Giving roses to those we love is one of those odd human gestures that simultaneously feels completely natural but is objectively impractical. Roses don’t last—maybe a week if you’re lucky—and they cost a small fortune. Why not spend that money on something more useful? 

It’s because there’s a lushness, an extravagance, a fire to intimate love. While love certainly attends to practicality, it is never limited or satisfied by it.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit moves like this. The Holy Spirit isn’t a manager sent to sustain and oversee the Church in Jesus’ absence. The Holy Spirit is love itself—intimate, animated, alive, passionate, consuming, bursting through the darkness, lush, extravagant, fiery. The Holy Spirit is not only the Giver of Life in a literal sense, but also in the way that He makes us ardently and wholly alive

 
Fire of Your Love.jpg
 

The second piece began as a large fake painting I found stacked against the wall at Goodwill. You know the type: a mass-produced, printed-on image; bland, generic colors chosen to blend in; stamped with factory-generated fake texture and fake brush strokes. Some machine had made it along with dozens of identical copies to become pieces that are hung not for their beauty or impact, but just to fill space. It was in good condition, with solid stretchers, and just one-fourth the cost of a new canvas, so I brought it home, cleaned it, and began turning the fake painting into a real one. 

Even as paint transformed the printed-on image into something real and new, the original lines and ridges weren’t buried. They became part of the real painting, but this time with the intention and touch of a creator, no longer just the products of a machine’s inanimate stamp.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit rushes forth to move like this in our lives. We are not just bland copies made without meaning. We are not merely placeholders in some weary chain of evolution. We are not made just to fill space.

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes to create us freshly and with purpose, to bring us more wholly to life. But His creative love doesn’t bury or annihilate who we have been—instead, it integrates all the dull and fake and printed-on parts of us into something real and new and beautiful.  

If Jesus had remained on earth, says Venerable Fulton Sheen, “He would have been only a symbol to be copied, not a life to be lived.”  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fills us, creates us, and renews us to be something more than mass-produced copies of Jesus—that extravagant love that cannot be contained makes us more real and more ourselves.  Pentecost is not the denouement to Easter; it is the consummation.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.

 

 

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Music Leader
Daniel Johnson