The Festival of Pentecost

Ok, this is somewhat cheeky …but there is so much one could say about Pentecost and about the Holy Spirit … so here are some of the things I didn’t fit into my sermon … linking what the Catechisms say …

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength be-lieve in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

(Explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed, Small Catechism)

How does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

(Lord’s Prayer – Second Petition, Small Catechism)

How can water do such great things? Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain wa-ter and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying” (Titus 3:5-8).

(Baptism #3, Small Catechism)

Of course it is true that those who despise the sacrament and lead unchristian lives receive it to their harm and damnation. To such people nothing can be good or wholesome, just as when a sick person wilfully eats and drinks what is forbidden him by the physician. But those who feel their weakness, who are anxious to be rid of it and desire help, should regard and use the sacra-ment as a precious antidote against the poison in their systems. For here in the sacrament you receive from Christ’s lips the forgiveness of sins, which contains and conveys God’s grace and Spirit with all his gifts, protection, defence, and power against death and the devil and all evils.

(The Sacrament of the Altar §69,70, Large Catechism)

The Holy Spirit isn’t energy or a force (a la Star Wars) but a Person and hence we use a personal pronoun for him rather than an impersonal one. He is God. As such he can do what he likes but just as Jesus stayed on the cross – didn’t ‘pop’ the nails but let them hold him to the cross for us, so the Holy Spirit stays with words, water, bread and wine so that we can know where he is, where to meet Jesus, and how to identify the Christian Church on earth. Without the Holy Spirit, we wouldn’t recognise or believe that a crucified man could be our Lord and Saviour.  — GS