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Take Me With You - A Theological Reflection by Dr. Leopoldo A. Sánchez M.

The song “Take Me With You” begins with the bridge, which sets a proper tone for approaching the Spirit in prayer. Talking on the psalmist’s posture of wonder before God, the song begins and ends with an address to the Holy Spirit in the form of two questions: “Where are You going? / Where are You leading?” Rather than seeking to discern the Spirit’s movement and direction on his own, the supplicant humbly asks the Holy Spirit to take control and guide him on a journey to grasp more deeply His works in creation and in his own life: “Take me with You / Can I come with You?”

The first half of the first verse recalls the Spirit’s work of creation from the beginning, recalling His hovering over the waters of the deep in the opening verses of Genesis: “You were over the waters / Over dark and deep.” Even before the first day of creation, where there is darkness and light, evening and morning, the Spirit is already present and active. Before living things come into being, the Spirit is already there: “Even before the light / All was still asleep.” The Spirit precedes the light and brings creation and all creatures therein to life. A strong sense of the Spirit’s divine initiative comes through.

The second half of the first verse moves from remembering the Holy Spirit’s works in creation to His creative activity in our own lives. The flow of the profession is from the Spirit’s work in the past to His work in the present, from the universal to the particular, from the Spirit’s hovering over the waters of the first creation to His hovering over us in the baptismal waters of the new creation. The Spirit’s descent over us in baptism makes us a new creature: “When I was in that water / You were over me.” Just like the Spirit was there when “all was still asleep,” the Spirit also was there even before we “knew” of His presence. Because the Creator Spirit is always ahead of us, the Spirit has the power to act freely and out of love for us. Thus we do not seek after the Spirit, but the Spirit seeks after us: “Even before I knew / You pursued me.” The song displays a strong sense of the Spirit’s divine initiative on behalf of those whom He initiates into the new life through baptism into Christ.

Naming the Holy Spirit explicitly for the first time, the first chorus confesses His work in the story of salvation from beginning to end. The titles for the Spirit have the modest goal of highlighting the Spirit’s nearness to us—His being from below, so to speak: “You are the Holy Spirit / My Counselor and friend / You’ve always been at work / Beginning ‘til the end.” The chorus already acknowledges the Spirit’s identity from above by pointing to His lordship across the ages (“Beginning ‘til the end”). Moreover, the Spirit, unlike the Son who is incarnate, remains unseen, which points to His mystery and transcendence. The move from above fundamentally accentuates the distinction between God and creation because the Spirit’s work always takes place according to His will and apart from human initiative: “We may not see You now / But it won’t stop what You’ll do.” A gratuitous image of the Spirit emerges, both in His relation to and distinction from those whom He makes holy.

The first half of the second verse recalls the great Pentecost, another major event in the story of salvation when the Holy Spirit fell on Jesus’ disciples with tongues as of fire in the upper room: “You were in that room / Descending in fire.” The Spirit’s descent has a kerygmatic goal, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the known languages of the nations: “Tongues broke out / Like a gospel choir”. The reference to a gospel choir communicates above all the joy in the Spirit that flows from the hearing and speaking of the Gospel, but also implicitly hints at the cross-cultural expression of Gospel by drawing attention to a particular musical genre with a universal appeal.

The second half of the second verse describes the effects of Pentecost still felt today in the church, which is like a room where the Spirit still moves and reveals His works to us: “You are in this room / Spirit, You’re moving / Show us, Lord, / What You’re Doing.” The Spirit’s descent in “that” room happens in “this” room too because in both cases the Spirit empowers the church for witness. The immediate context of the previous half of the verse invites us to pray for the Spirit to illumine our minds with the proclamation of the wonders of God in Christ Jesus and to discern what the Spirit is doing among us to proclaim such wonders across the nations in our midst. The ongoing significance of Pentecost, of the enkindling fire of the Spirit, for empowering the church’s singing of the Gospel anew in our times (“like a gospel choir”) comes through in the text.

The first chorus repeats, reminding us about the Spirit’s being with us and above us. A second chorus then joins in, which develops an interpretation of previously used titles for the Spirit (“My Counselor and friend”) in the broader context of two new titles: “You are the Holy Spirit / My Comforter and peace.” Beyond accentuating the Spirit’s nearness to us, the chorus ultimately explains all the titles for the Spirit (counselor / comforter; friend / peace) in terms of the intercessory effects of His work for believers amidst the struggles of life: “When I’m in times of trouble / You intercede for me.” The second chorus makes clear that the Spirit’s work of sanctification does not lead to some perfection of holiness in this life. Instead, the Spirit’s ongoing work in the life of the believer happens amidst the afflictions of life brought about by the sinful flesh, the devil, and the world. The Spirit does not abandon but accompanies us “in times of trouble.” The authors blend Johannine and Pauline themes in their description of the Spirit’s activity, suggesting that comfort and peace—and our experience of the Spirit’s counsel and friendship—comes in knowing that He prays in us according to God’s will even when we do not know how to pray.

The song ends with the bridge. But now its prayer takes on new meaning considering the descriptions of the Spirit’s works laid out in the rest of the song. We now come to the bridge, but with a deeper sense of where the Spirit is going and leading us. It is a life in which the Creator Spirit forms us as baptized children of God, illumines our minds and hearts with the light of the gospel, puts a fire in us to proclaim this Gospel to the nations, and intercedes for us amid spiritual attacks. The Spirit does this work even apart from our prayers, but in this song we ask the Spirit humbly that He might also do this work among us. Come, Holy Spirit! Take me with You. Amen.

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