Sermonette: The Holy Spirit gathers in grace
February 7, 2022
The Holy Spirit, in the work of creating life, gathers us into the community that is the church. This new life comes to us through the gifts of God’s word and through baptism and holy communion. These three can be termed as “means of grace”. They are visible signs of God’s love for us and promise to us. The waters of baptism bring new birth, as we are grafted by the Holy Spirit’s grace into Christ’s death and resurrection, and into the promise God made to Israel. The bread and the wine deliver to us the forgiveness of sin through the body and blood of Jesus, which was given for us. In both baptism and holy communion, we trust in God’s word and lean on God’s promise, following Christ’s command to “do this in remembrance of me” and “go therefore and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
In both baptism and holy communion, God acts through the generative power of the Holy Spirit. In the water, and the bread and wine, we encounter the living Jesus who declares us sinless on his account. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul writes, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
As the Holy Spirit gathers us into weekly worship, we hear God’s word through reading it and hearing it preached. The Book of Concord states that the Holy Spirit makes alive God’s word and “illuminates and inflames hearts so that they grasp and accept it, and persevere in it.” This is most certainly true, and as we do this, the Word of God actually grows in us. We become living testimonies to the Holy Spirit’s transforming power. Additionally, God’s word grows out of us, and we become agents of love and light that bless the world. All by the Holy Spirit’s grace and power.
St. Paul writes in Galatians, “And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” As we cry Abba Father, we are changed moment by moment, and day by day. Faith grows; faith in this very word of God. Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best in his letter to the Ephesians, “In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” We are a people called and gathered, sealed, and set apart for lives powered by the Holy Spirit.
May you, no matter where you are on your life’s journey, experience this power and calling today.