The Sacred Hug promised in the Upper Room

goose hugSometimes I just need a hug.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Too much going on.  Little things making me stressed out.  Nothing huge.  I really can’t explain why, but I felt a little down.  Nothing a hug couldn’t cure.

I remember when my son Kit was a toddler.  He gave the best hugs.  Just wrapped his entire little body – both arms and legs – around me.  I can close my eyes even now and remember what his big bear hugs felt like. Even to this day, there is such joy in his hugs! My church is also a good place to go to get hugs (I realize not all churches are) — except during holy week when you are instructed to leave in silence.  That was disappointing last night!  I wanted to stop everyone and give them a hug!  Yet when my husband walks in from work at the end of a long day, I always get hugged.  I like the way he is so tall that I fit under his chin.  When my other son Brent arrived home last Friday for Holy Week, my husband and I both hugged him at the same time.  To our surprise, Maggie, our Great Dane joined the hug by standing on her hind legs and putting one paw on my husband and one on me.  A great big family hug with lots of laughter.  The doggie seemed pleased.

“The Holy Spirit is God in the act of giving us an infinite embrace”

Being hugged and giving hugs can be a very holy thing.  While teaching about the Upper Room for the last six weeks, I discovered that the Holy Spirit is God in the act of giving us an infinite hug.  I am not just being sappy . . .  stick with me for a second.  This is what Jesus said:

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever” (Joh 14:16 NRS).

Other translations call the Holy Spirit “the Comforter” instead of “Advocate.”  There is a sense that the Holy Spirit is for us.  Advocating, Teaching, and Comforting.  Hugging!  But that isn’t all.  This is what is really cool:

In the book of Acts, after Pentecost (which was when the Holy Spirit came), the Holy Spirit is described as tripping and falling a lot.  For instance in Acts 10:44 the Holy Spirit falls on all who heard the word.  In Acts 11:15, the Holy Spirit falls on them again.  That amused me.  Was the Spirit drunk and doing a lot of tripping and falling?  No, but that was the image conjured up in my mischievous mind.

I started looking into what this “falling” really meant.  Lo and behold, it literally means “to embrace” to “give a bear hug.”  The Spirit was giving these people a hug that never ends!  How cool is that?

The same word is used to describe what the father does when he runs to meet the prodigal son.  He “falls on his neck” or better translated, “he hugs him” (Luke 15:11-32).

The Holy Spirit hugs us.  The Holy Spirit is God in the act of giving us an infinite embrace.  Think about that the next time you feel a bit (or even a lot) down.  You aren’t alone.  The Holy Spirit has her arms around you holding you tight.  Know how much you are loved!

P.S.  Don’t let my calling the Holy Spirit “her” distract you.  The Spirit is gender feminine in the Old Testament and neutral in the New Testament so it is perfectly theologically legit.

*****

April is a Red Letter Christian who writes about scripture and spiritual disciplines. See her latest book, James in the Suburbs.  

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