Focus on the Cross

The seventh of ten footprints of the Holy Spirit is our topic of discussion this week. But first it will be worthwhile to review the first six.

The first is about God’s promise to send the Spirit. The second is waiting upon (asking in prayer for) the gift. The third is recognizing that the gift is poured out on the community before filling each individual. The fourth is the aid of the Spirit in overcoming communication barriers. The fifth is the boldness the Holy Spirit enables in our witness. And the sixth is clarity in pointing to Christ’s crucifixion.

The seventh footprint of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Book of Acts has to do with the way the Holy Spirit brings the central message home. That is, he repeatedly returns to a focus on what Christ has accomplished on our behalf through his death on the Cross. For instance, when people were amazed at the healing of a lame beggar effected through Peter and John, the Apostles immediately drew people’s attention to Jesus as the reason for the miracle. And they identified Jesus as the one that the people had delivered over to the Roman Governor, Pilate, to be crucified!

Although their message could be harsh and direct, for instance when they accused the people of killing the Author of life, they also immediately declare that it was ordained that Jesus should suffer in this manner, and that by his suffering and death Jesus is able to give forgiveness and life! Day in and day out the Holy Spirit brings home the message of the Cross and impresses it upon the ears and hearts of the people.

The Holy Spirit continues to do his work in our midst today. As we gather for the Divine Service there are at least 52 times a year the Gospel is shared - in the liturgy, in the hymns, in the sermons, and in the Lord’s Supper. The Holy Spirit is at work to bring the message home!

Since You Asked…

What is meant by the term “catholic” as when we confess, “I believe in the holy catholic Church?”

The term “catholic” means whole and refers to a church which receives the Christian faith intact without alteration or selection of matters of the faith. The opposite of catholic is heretic, one who picks and chooses which parts of the faith to accept. Thus “catholic” is more specific than “Christian” and is not a synonym for “ecumenical” or “worldwide”. (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)

- often when the “C” is capitalized “Catholic” is referring to the Roman Catholic Church, and when the “c” is lower case “catholic” is referring to the Church receiving the whole of the faith.