Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Friday, April 30, 2010

Pentecost and the Holy Spirit

Pastor’s Window for May 2010
Pentecost and the Holy Spirit

Beloved in the Lord,

Sunday, May 23rd, is the Day of Pentecost, and also Confirmation Day for us here at Epiphany, as Sami Powell and Bray MacIntosh will be confirmed and receive their first communion. Pentecost, which means 50, was originally a Jewish harvest festival, also known as the Feast of Weeks, that took place 50 days (7 weeks) after the beginning of the grain harvest, which corresponded to the Passover. So it was that 50 days after the celebration of Passover, 50 days after the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the apostles and the other disciples of Jesus were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost with Jews from all over the world. The disciples were gathered together in one place, when suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind filled the house, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads. They began to speak in tongues, which is to say, known human languages that they had never previously known or studied. They spoke the Gospel in the native languages of all those Jews from throughout the world who had come to celebrate Pentecost in Jerusalem. You can read about this event yourself in Acts 2.

That mighty rushing wind is the promised Holy Spirit, who came upon the disciples to lead them into all truth, just as Jesus said He would: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26; ESV).

Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does He do? He is the third Person of the Holy Trinity (one God, three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Lutherans are often charged with not talking enough about the Holy Spirit. It is a false charge (we talk about Him all the time, particularly how He works upon us in the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments!), but it springs from something that is actually quite true, and that is that the Holy Spirit is always pointing us to Jesus, who alone is the way to the Father (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit is always directing attention to Jesus. Jesus says as much: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit is often called the “shy” Person of the Holy Trinity, because He is always drawing attention to Jesus Christ.

For if you have Jesus, you have the Father, and you have the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son (Jesus). The Holy Spirit gives us faith in Jesus Christ. “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). Faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who calls us by the Gospel. He doesn’t just zap us into believing, and He doesn’t come through feelings or voices in our heads, but through the Gospel, His holy Word preached and printed on the page, and tangibly given to us in the water of Holy Baptism, and the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Altar. The Holy Spirit calls us to faith by the Gospel, gathers us into the holy Church, enlightens us with His gifts (again, Word and Sacrament!), sanctifies us (makes us holy), and keeps us in the one true faith of Jesus Christ. He is really, as we confess in the Nicene Creed, “the Lord and Giver of life,” for He gives us eternal life in bringing us to faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior.

In the Christian Church, Pentecost has come to be celebrated as the Day the Holy Spirit was given to the Church in a special and miraculous manner. Each of us have our own personal Pentecost the moment we come to faith in Jesus Christ. When we come to faith, that is the Holy Spirit’s work. He has come upon us and dwells with us and in us. For many of us, that happens when we are baptized into Christ as infants. Infants can believe because faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is given in Baptism. Confirmation Day is a celebration of that personal Pentecost in the lives of our confirmands. We will hear evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in Sami and Bray as they confess the faith into which they are Baptized, and which they have come to know from Luther’s Small Catechism. And upon their confession, they will be admitted to the Lord’s Table to receive His true body and blood, another vehicle of the Holy Spirit whereby He will continue to work in them to strengthen and sustain them in the one true faith.

God bless our confirmands. And God grant us all His Holy Spirit, who ever directs us in faith to Jesus Christ, who alone is the Way and the Truth and the Life, in whom we have access to God as our Father.

Pastor Krenz

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