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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (May 2016)

posted Apr 29, 2016, 2:03 AM by Russell D. Hampton

“I have spoken these things while staying with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you. ~ John 14:25-26

On Sunday, May 15 we will celebrate the festival of Pentecost.  Pentecost is the day where the Holy Spirit was poured onto the disciples in full force.  The Book of Acts tells us how the disciples were waiting – waiting for the arrival of the promised Spirit.  Then the Holy Spirit was loosed upon the world: a violent wind filled the house where they were staying, divided tongues of fire rested upon their heads, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (this Spirit gave them the ability to speak in a multitude of languages).  Peter stood before a gathered crowd to proclaim the story of Jesus with passion and conviction.  The scriptures tell us 3,000 people were baptized that day.

The events of Pentecost called me to reflect upon the gift of the Holy Spirit.  I would say Lutherans have not been good at paying attention to the Holy Spirit.  Sure, we acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.  We confess the Holy Spirit as a being of the Holy Trinity – One God, three persons; three persons, One God.  Nevertheless, we may not be able to describe who the Holy Spirit is for us.  So, I would like to address two questions: Who is the Holy Spirit?  What does the Holy Spirit do in our lives?   The best places to look are Scriptures, Creed, and Catechism.

1.   Scriptures – According to John, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, Jesus spoke final words to his disciples.  Part of this discourse included a promise that Jesus would not leave his disciples abandoned and alone.  Jesus promised to them the Paraclete – the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This word “paraclete” can be translated many ways – Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, or Intercessor.  But the truth is the Holy Spirit is all these roles.  If you read the Book of Acts or Paul’s letters or other writings of the New Testament, you will observe the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of the believers.  The Holy Spirit gave them comfort and strength.  The Holy Spirit led them to speak the truth and find joy in their present circumstances.  The Holy Spirit would direct them again and again to the promise of life and salvation in Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit reveals Christ’s presence among them.  The Holy Spirit does the same in the life of all believers of Jesus Christ. 

2.   The Creeds – We confess in the Nicene Creed that the Holy Spirit is “the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.”  We acknowledge in this confession that the Holy Spirit has always been present in this world.  The Holy Spirit is the voice speaking through the prophet and the Holy Spirit continues to sustain this world with life.  The Holy Spirit receives our worship and praise.  

3.   The Catechism – Martin Luther wrote the catechism so that followers of Christ could understand the essential elements of faith but also so that they could share the faith with others.  Through his study of the Scriptures, Luther gave us a way of understanding and expressing who the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit does for us.   Luther writes, “the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with gifts, sanctified and kept me in the truth faith; even as the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.”  We cannot understand who Jesus is or what Jesus has done without the Holy Spirit.  We cannot share the faith and use our gifts for service without the Holy Spirit leading us by the Gospel and giving us gifts for ministry.  The Holy Spirit acts in our lives so that we can have faith; use the gifts the Spirit activates within us; and keep us holy to do this work. 

I want to conclude this article by asking you to ponder the following questions: Where do you see the Holy Spirit calling, guiding, and acting in our life?  How do you respond to the Holy Spirit’s call?  How is the Holy Spirit leading the Church into the future? 

God’s Peace ~ Pastor Maureen