The dove has long been a recognizable symbol for the Holy Spirit. We see it time after time in stained glass windows and paintings. The most notable reference is Matthew 3:16-17 "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Besides being a symbol for the Holy Spirit, we find the dove throughout the old and new testaments. It was the dove that Noah sent out that came back with the olive leaf. Genesis 8:8-11. The dove was one of the animals offered as a sacrifice to God by Abram in Genesis 15:9. In fact the dove is mentioned in several sacrificial rights: Purification, Trespass and Sin Offerings.
The dove is also associated with the gentleness typical of Christ. Matthew 10:16 "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be shrewd as snakes and as Innocent as doves."
When I think of the Holy Spirit symbolized by the dove I cannot help but think of the country ballad Wings of a Dove. I remember the Porter Wagoner version. It was one of my mom's favorite songs and she played it over and over. I can still remember the lines. "On a snow white dove he sent his pure sweet love, on a sign from above, sign from above, on the wings of a dove, wings of a dove." I am pretty sure my mom wore out that 45 record.
Picture taken outside Lutheran church in Dayton Ohio.