In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation this October, we will be studying the three major parts of the Catechism for the fall months. All children and youth will receive their own copy of Luther’s Small Catechism: Study Edition, and adults may purchase them for themselves through the church. May God bless our time of study as we return to our Lutheran roots during this Pentecost fall season of growth!
The Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed: On Being Made Holy
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.
What is this? or What does this mean?
I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true. (Luther’s Small Catechism: Study Edition pg. 31)
Devotional Questions from the ELCA’s Book of Faith Initiative:
What scares, confuses, or challenges me about this article and its meaning? What do I have questions about?
One aspect about this article and its meaning that challenges me is that I cannot believe on my own. There is nothing that I can do that makes me more believing, or more faithful, or more holy in God’s eyes. That’s the work of the Spirit. I would love to think that all my hard work at being good gets me somewhere, but it just doesn’t. It is God’s work in and through me, and not mine at all. Another part that challenges me is when I am in grumpy mode. I am happy to believe that the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives me, but all believers? Even the ones who I don’t like, who don’t seem to care about the world, that I don’t know? Even them? It’s a good thing that God is the one doing the forgiving; I wouldn’t be very good at that job at all.
What delights me about this article and its meaning? What do I like about it?
I always think that Sunday morning is a miracle. All these different people, from all these different homes and families and work places, gathered all together to sing, and pray, and learn, and grow. Only the Spirit could bring that to pass, and I thank God every Sunday for the great privilege to lead our assembly. I am also reminded that worship on Sunday morning isn’t the only place we gather. This month, we will gather for service projects on Mission Festival Sunday. We will continue to learn and grow together through Sunday School and Bible Study. And we will serve in the various capacities that God has given us, as farmers and electricians, mothers and fathers, teachers and students. And the Holy Spirit will go there with us, too.
What stories or memories does this article and its meaning stir up in me? You might remember a time when you felt called, gathered, enlightened, made holy, or sent, for example.
I am looking forward to the Nebraska Synod’s gathering of Rostered Leaders in Lincoln this month. We will be altogether in one place for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It is an event that I imagine that I will be telling future generations about for as long as I live, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.
What is God up to in this article and its meaning? What is God calling you to do or to be because of this?
This is my favorite article of the Apostles’ Creed because it tells us all the ways and places in which God has promised to show up. It is sometimes hard to believe, simply because we cannot see. However, when we look to “the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,” we find concrete places where we can be sure to encounter God. That is a great source of comfort and hope for me, especially in a world that is often neither comforting nor hopeful.
As always, I look forward to great conversations with you about this article, and whatever else the Spirit puts on your heart, this month. May the Spirit accompany us into all of the places where we have been sent to share God’s love.