Our Easter worship is drawing to a close. June 9 is Pentecost, a time when we
remember what some call the birthday of the church. We hear of the rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire that those first century followers of Christ experienced. Today it is still the Holy Spirit who works in and through the people of God.
Regarding the work of the Spirit in the Apostles’ Creed, Martin Luther wrote:
"I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in
Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has
called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me
holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens,
and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with
Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church
the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all
believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead
and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most
certainly true." (The Small Catechism).
I have bolded everything that Luther wrote in this paragraph about the works of the Holy Spirit—and there are plenty. This is my favorite part of the catechism, especially the first sentence, “…by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe…” It is all the work of God. The Holy Spirit initiates our relationship with God and continues to work in our lives.
It may seem like I am doing a lot of quoting in this article, but sometimes others have just the right words that touch our hearts. Not being raised Lutheran, the message of God’s amazing grace, of God coming down to us has set me free from the chains of trying so hard to please God, of wondering if I am good enough to get to heaven, if I am doing enough.
In Evangelical Lutheran Worship, there is a hymn that beautifully expresses our cry to God’s Spirit. Let us together pray these words:
O Holy Spirit, enter in, and in our hearts your work begin,
and make our hearts your dwelling.
Sun of the soul, O Light divine, around and in us brightly shine,
your strength in us upwelling.
In your radiance life from heaven now is given overflowing,
gift of gifts beyond all knowing. Amen. ELW 786