Where the Wind Blows
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 ESV) With these words, Jesus instructs Nicodemus about the work of the Holy Spirit to create the faith that looks to Christ. Today at International Lutheran Church we reflect on the meaning of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed and the work of the Holy Spirit to call us to faith through the gospel. While “faith” and “belief” is the action of the heart, this is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. This is where the wind blows!
Lent is a special time for us to reflect on the cross and what Jesus’ passion means for us in our daily lives as we prepare to celebrate His resurrection on the third day. In a way Lent is our own wilderness journey that the Spirit guides us through to see Jesus lifted on the cross for us. Perhaps another image for Lent might be the “midnight conversation” through which the Spirit brings us into the “day.” That Nicodemus came to Jesus “by night” seems to strike an interesting tone with his role as a prominent and important teacher in Israel. It is usually the things done in the dark that we hope no one will notice. Yet, this is the very conversation that Jesus uses to bring him and us into the light.
As part of our Lenten meditation we have been reading through the Small Catechism, this book of simple questions and answers that Luther used to teach moms and dads how to teach their children in the Christian faith. Today we want to cover the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed and its explanation where we read…
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean? 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 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. (Luther’s Small Catechism: The Apostles’ Creed, the Third Article)
Luther uses a similar pedagogical pattern to explain and teach the meaning of each article of the Apostles’ Creed. Each one focuses on the work of the person of the Trinity. God the Father who “makes” is Creator. God the Son who “redeems” is Justifier. Now in this Third Article, God the Spirit who “makes Holy” is the Sanctifier. We confess the work and action of each person of the Trinity in their relationship to ourselves. Simply put, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit that makes us holy. How does the Spirit do this? Through the forgiveness of our sins. He takes what Christ did on the cross, His life, death and resurrection and makes it yours and mine. He is Holy as He makes you and me holy by faith created and sustained through the gospel. The Spirit breathes/blows into our lives the breath of life and creates faith in you and me personally. Faith/belief is then a gift and “work” of our gracious God who works in our lives to create and sustain our faith.
Where does God do this? Luther explains this in the simplest terms – where the gospel gathers us together into a holy community, the church. Here the Holy Spirit sanctifies and sustains us through the forgiveness of sins that is brought to us through the gospel, through the Word and Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
This is the work of the Spirit that we confess when we call Him holy and are brought to lift our eyes upon the very Son of God with faith in the Father’s grace and love for us. This is the work that the Spirit calls us to in sharing this good news throughout our communities, in our homes and places of work and study. The Spirit even uses those “midnight” conversations to bring us into the “daylight” of His love and grace for us and all in Christ. This is where the wind blows!
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