This week we move to the Third and final Article of the Apostles’ Creed as we make our way through Luther’s Small Catechism. The familiar words we confess go, “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.”
We will take the Third Article in two stages. The first half of Luther’s explanation reads, “I believe that I cannot by my own understanding or effort 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 kept me in true faith.” Next week we will consider the rest of the explanation.
Having first looked at the Ten Commandments and our failure to live up to his expectations, it is refreshing in the Creed to see God as the main actor. In the First Article God creates and sustains his creation. In the Second Article he redeems sinful humans and the damaged creation. And now in the Third Article we see God at work bringing us to faith and maintaining us in the same. And it is a good thing, because we never cease to muff things up, even in the receiving of the gift of salvation. But our Lord’s performance is different. We can depend on him!
The Person of the Holy Spirit takes an important role here. His voice speaks in the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, where he has also drawn us together in its hearing. He enlightens our understanding. He stirs our hearts and kindles faith in us. And then he creates and sustains new life in us, so much so that it is referred to as the new birth.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in concert, with the Holy Spirit especially testifying to Christ Jesus and drawing us to him.
Since You Asked…
What is the purpose of the Psalm Reading? And why do we often sing (chant) the Psalm?
“The appointed psalm is sung as a meditation on the First Lesson, a response to it, and a bridge to the Second Lesson. … Hearers of the lessons need a chance to assimilate the First Lesson before the Second Lesson begins. The required use of a psalm between the lessons provides for the restoration of psalm singing to its traditional place in the life of the church and gives the worshiper the opportunity to participate in the singing (or reading) of a portion of Scripture…” (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)