Luther and Belief in the Holy Spirit

This weekend my daughter’s choir sang at a service at Immanuel Lutheran Church. I always enjoy when the choir sings at a service of one of the area churches, as it gives me the opportunity to see how others celebrate their Sunday liturgy.

The worship aide distributed for the service included an insert for “Taking Faith Home,” a sheet of recommended readings, discussion questions and suggested devotional practices that tied in with the Sunday service. One of the things included was an excerpt from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.” Explaining the third article of the Apostles’ Creed, Luther writes

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. In the same way he calls, gather, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it united with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

The Holy Spirit sometimes gets short shrift from us. But is through the Spirit that we are most deeply united with Christ. As Luther recognizes, our belief in and ability to come to Jesus is not something we can manage on our own. We can respond in faith only because God is already in us. We are already God’s, by the power of the Spirit.

When we affirm in our creed our belief in the Holy Spirit, we should be conscious that, before we do anything on our own, we are already called to God by the Spirit at work within us. We are already marked as belonging to God and we are kept united with and in Christ.