May is here. Summer is near. That means that some of you might be planning vacations. If you will be away on a Sunday, let me know so I can help you find a solid confessional Lutheran Church near you to attend.
I know the temptations in vacations. Our leisure, too, is a gift from God. It is time set aside specifically to enjoy the earthly gifts of God. But church remains a priority, because we still need our spiritual care. We still are sinners in need of forgiveness. We need the word of forgiveness to strengthen our faith, and lead us to increase in godliness. Another reason why we would go to church—and this is what ties in to our series on the catechism—is that we’re Christians and that is what Christians do.
We have arrived at the Third Article of the Creed which has to do with the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. In it, we confess, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints.” The Holy Spirit is holy, and He is the holy maker. Through the gospel, He makes us holy by creating and preserving our faith in Christ that we have as our personal possession, Christ’s forgiveness and righteousness. He also makes us holy by leading us in our sanctified lives.
When He makes us holy, it means that He makes us set apart as His people, members of the Holy Christian Church. What is this Holy Christian Church? It is the communion of saints. You, through the Holy Spirit given faith in Christ, are saints and members of the saint community. In His words to the disciples in the upper room before His betrayal and there also in what is called His “High Priestly Prayer”, Jesus speaks much about the work of the Holy Spirit. And the effect of that work of the Holy Spirit is spoken in these words of Jesus, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they may also be in us.”
Christianity is not a lone ranger religion. An individual is not called out of the present darkness of this world to be an island of Christendom to himself. No, we are called to be one in the body of Christ, united together, all believers from every nation on earth and all those who have entered into eternal glory. (There is one united Christian Church, one body of Christ, but sadly, because of doctrinal errors that divide, unity cannot be enjoyed until the Last Day when all error will be removed.) Where is the body of Christ on earth to be found, but in the gathering of believers around the Word and Sacrament? Our identity as Christians is in the Church, Christ’s Church, in His body that was redeemed, washed clean in the washing of water with the Word, and that communes upon His flesh and blood.
To flesh out a little part of the Third Article of the Creed, we can say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit who has made me holy, by delivering me out of the darkness of unbelief and bringing me to faith in Christ. I believe that through the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith, I am a member of the Holy Christian Church, a saint in the communion of saints. We are unite and gather with the Church on earth around Christ in His Word and Sacraments, and in eternity we shall unite and gather around the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
Dear fellow saints in Christ and members of the body of our risen and triumphant Lord, it is a joy to gather around Christ each week with you. There is no other gathering like it. Amen.