“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
According to our time-honored custom, we Christians celebrate three main festivals each year during the course of the Christian church year.
At CHRISTMAS we remember how God sent His Son Jesus to our world as a tiny child at Bethlehem that He might serve as our Redeemer from death, hell, and sin. With hearts brimming with joy we commemorate the birth of Christ. We sing happy Christmas carols and share “Merry Christmas” greetings—all because of the Bible truth that our heavenly Father condescended in love to give us the best Gift ever in the person of His own dear Son.
Likewise, we celebrate a second major festival of the church year amid songs of jubilation. Our hearts swell with joy at EASTER because of the extraordinary event this festival commemorates. Our churches reverberate with exuberant “alleluias.” We greet each other merrily with “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!”, for we know Jesus’ resurrection proves beyond a doubt that everything the Bible teaches about Him and His work as our Savior is true. Jesus paid for our sins completely. He broke the power of the devil. He robbed the grave of its sting. Reasons indeed for Christian hearts to break forth with anthems of joyous praise to God!
Set Apart as Holy!
Soon we will observe the third major festival of the church year: PENTECOST. This festival too is a celebration of joy. What makes it so?
On Pentecost we remember the special work the Holy Spirit performs for us.
By His power in the gospel, the Spirit accomplishes the awesome miracle of instilling faith in Jesus within our hearts. We realize that apart from the Spirit’s work we could not benefit from nor appreciate any of the blessings our Savior obtained for us through His holy life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. In the words of Martin Luther in the Third Article: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, nor come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel and enlightened me with His gifts.”
The Bible word for this work of the Holy Spirit is “sanctification,” which means “to set apart as holy.” That’s what the Spirit did for us when He turned us from unbelief to faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He set us apart from the godless world and transformed us into holy children of God who are privileged to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live on Earth and then hereafter in heaven.
This is the happy truth we confess every Sunday when we declare in the Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.”
In view of all that God’s Spirit has done for us, let us ever praise Him! Let us look forward to the approaching Pentecost Festival with eagerness and joy when we’ll be privileged to honor Him for His great work of love.
Glory and praise,
still onward reaching,
Be Yours, O Spirit of all grace,
Whose holy power
and faithful teaching
Give me among
Your saints a place.
Whatever good by me is done
Is worked by grace divine alone.
• TLH #243:4 •