THE DAY OF PENTECOST
May 15, 2016
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints; the Forgiveness of sins; the Resurrection of the body; and the Life everlasting. Amen.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him;
but the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith; . . . . .
Excerpted from The Third Article of the Apostles' Creed, Explanation from Martin Luther's Small Catechism
This Sunday, we observe the Day of Pentecost, and we also confer a new status on our young people through the Affirmation of Baptism. How beautifully these celebrations fit together, as we hear the dramatic story of how the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and were able to speak in languages those attending the festival from other countries could understand. Then we move into the service in which our confirmation students are formally received as adult members of the church, taking responsibility for the promises of Baptism as educated, mature young adults.
Remembering this important occasion in my own life, I pulled out my very old Confirmation instruction book, and looking through it, I realized that our second year of study was approached in a more scholarly, grown-up tone than the first. The book's primary source material was Luther's Small Catechism, and we had memorization requirements, Bible study, and homework questions.
Studying Luther's explanation of the gift of the Holy Spirit to all Christians, we learn why the Spirit was sent to all humanity, and how it works in our individual lives as well as throughout the world. Luther articulates very clearly the personal relationship with Jesus that the Holy Spirit brings to us, calling and enlightening us, along with all Christians, daily caring for our souls.
On this Day of Pentecost, we are reminded of the universal nature of the Good News for all people everywhere. How appropriate, then, that we celebrate our young people affirming their baptismal promises and then remember that the Holy Spirit is always beside every one of us, calling us, and supporting us in our faith journeys. We are never alone or on our own -- this is God's gift to us on this special day and every day.
Your friend in Christ,