Of ghosts and spirits

31 10 2011

Interest in the supernatural is all around, especially today – Hallowe’en – although commercialisation has made it an excuse for macabre masks and costumes, pumpkin lanterns, and trick or treat rather than anything other worldly.

The Bible talks about supernatural forces at work in the world – for example in Ephesians 6:12 Paul writes like this, “Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world.”  But the clear message is that the resurrection of Jesus is evidence that God will win the battle, even although it often looks like the forces of darkness are dominant.


As a child I was easily frightened, so when I read in the Bible about the Holy Ghost I invented a Casperesque figure who was friendly and inoffensive rather than anything to do with God. Back then the preferred version of the Bible was the King James; thankfully in more recent translations of the Bible, “Ghost” is replaced by “Spirit” and the book of Acts is where we read about his coming on the disciples.

This is a mystery and minds greater than mine have grappled with what happened, what it meant then and what it means for us.  What we do know is that Jesus had already promised his followers that when he died, although he would no longer be physically present with them, he would not abandon them.   He explained that he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them, to remind them of all he had taught them about God and to lead them in their walk of faith.

In Acts, Luke refers to the Holy Spirit a number of times, and also calls him “the spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7).  I like that.  It is as though Jesus lives on and is with us, still reminding us about God, opening our eyes to understand, and leading us in our walk of faith.




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