Around Thanksgiving time we often refer to turkey as "the bird." In African American churches, the "first lady" (the pastor’s wife) often serves fried chicken, "the Gospel bird," for Sunday dinner.
Yet there is a bird that carries sacred overtones, namely a type of pigeon we refer to as a "dove." God the Holy Spirit has chosen the dove as the symbol for His presence. This figure is first implied in the creation accounts when the Holy Spirit "hovered" over the waters (Gen. 1:2).
A few weeks ago, we were blessed by a baptismal service. While baptizing, I followed the command of Jesus and baptized our candidates "in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." We call this truth of one God in three persons the Trinity. Just as the word "Bible" is not found in the Bible but refers to a collection of all the inspired Scriptures, so the word "Trinity" is a composite of the Bible’s teachings about the nature of God.
As we look at the Holy Spirit in His dove-like representations, we need to remember that the Holy Spirit is a "He," not an "It." Like the Father and Son, He is an uncreated person (has always existed and is self-derived). He is God, and He is equal in attributes and glory to the Father and Son.
The idea of the word "holy" is "set apart, pure, distinct from creation." Both the Old Testament word (ruach) and the New Testament word (pneuma) are sometimes translated as "spirit" or "wind" or "breath." The translation depends on the context.
In several instances, a dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit. By why? As we examine the biblical background, we can see that the symbolic dove reminds us of the Holy Spirit's qualities. Read more...