The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Growing in grace

Drinking in God's goodness, we are transformed into something more

In the greater crises of my life, one set of sacred words breaks through the pain. My pastor/father spoke them at my confirmation. I was 13 on that Pentecost Day when my confirmation class knelt at the altar. Part of me can still feel my father's hands upon my head. I can still hear the gentle, serious love in his voice as he repeated the blessing for each of us.

The text was somewhat different from the one we use today. It was composed to carry us through a lifetime, regardless how difficult:

The Father in heaven, for Jesus' sake, renew and increase in you the gift of the Holy Spirit, to your strengthening in faith, to your growth in grace, to your patience in suffering, and to the blessed hope of everlasting life.

"Amen," we answered, one by one. And in my heart there was something I couldn't then put into words: "Yes, God, I want that. I want your Spirit to live and grow in me."

I don't know when I realized that the Spirit was not a "thing," encapsulated within space and time. The Spirit is life--dynamic, moving, vibrant life. It's the limitless, loving energy that created the world and has always inspired and guided, comforted and healed. It was, is and always will be available to us in inexhaustible supply. It is the Spirit that was active in Jesus, the Spirit of truth, love and power he gives to those who believe in him.

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February issue


Embracing diversity