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He enlightens me by his word and Spirit

Our tendency is to think about religion as part of our human search for God, our search for meaning, our quest to understand what it means to be human. But Biblical faith is about God’s search for us.

God is the woman sweeping her home in search of the lost coin. God is the shepherd scouring the hills for his lost sheep. God is the Father running to embrace his prodigal son and going out to find the hard-hearted brother. God’s first words to Adam and Eve come after they have eaten from the forbidden tree and God comes looking, asking “Where are you?” God comes to Abraham; Abraham doesn’t seek God. God finds Moses when Moses is looking for sheep. God finds David when he is tending the sheep. God is the one who seeks us. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we were running the other way, God came in search of us.

So our human wisdom on its own cannot comprehend this God; God must reveal himself to us. Our human wisdom would ask, “What must we do to reach God?” God’s revealed wisdom is, “This is what God has done to reach us.” Human wisdom would think in terms of God’s blessing given to the righteous. God’s wisdom says God’s blessing is given to sinners.

How do we come to understand and trust such a God? Because God “calls me through the Gospel,” “gathers me into the community of faith,” and “enlightens me by his Word and Spirit.”

The Prayer for Week 5:

In the mystery of your love, O God,
you breathe upon us your Spirit
and open our minds to understand your Word.
Grant us wisdom and understanding
that we may not walk in darkness but in the light of life;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Luther’s Small Catechism

The Third Article:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?

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 sanctifed and kept me in the true faith.

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

In this Christian church day after day
he fully forgives my sins and the sins of all believers.
On the last day he will raise me and all the dead
and give me and all believers in Christ eternal life.

This is most certainly true.

The Small Catechism by Martin Luther in Contemporary English, Augsburg Publishing, ©1960,1968