"Holy Spirit, ever dwelling, In the holiest realms of light; Holy Spirit, ever brooding, O'er a world of gloom and night; Holy Spirit, ever raising, Those of earth to thrones on high; Living, life-imparting Spirit, You we praise and magnify.
"Holy Spirit, ever working, Through the Church's ministry; Quick'ning, strength'ning, and absolving, Setting captive sinners free; Holy Spirit, ever-binding, Age to age and soul to soul. In communion never ending, You we worship and extol."
The Holy Spirit, who once hovered "over the face of the waters" in the dark void of creation's beginning (Genesis 1:2b), is still "brooding o'er a world of gloom and night." The Spirit, "ever working through the church's ministry," enlightens the sinful darkness of hearts and minds through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the ministry of the church, through the Word and the Sacraments, the Spirit is "quick'ning, strength'ning, and absolving." He quickens, that is, He brings life from death. He strengthens our faith through the Word and absolves repentant hearts through the forgiveness of sins.
We may not often speak—or sing—about the Holy Spirit, except on the festival of Pentecost. But perhaps that is because it is the Spirit's task to point, not to Himself, but to Jesus. The Lord said of the promised Spirit, "He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:14). On Pentecost, that is what the Spirit did: He glorified Jesus.
Fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead, the promised Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, and on that early Pentecost in Jerusalem, the sermon was all about Jesus. The apostle Peter announced that Jesus of Nazareth had been delivered into the hand of His enemies and crucified. Then, "God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it" (Acts 2:24). God had exalted the risen Savior as Lord and Messiah. The Holy Spirit was at work that day, glorifying Jesus and calling people to repentance as the listening crowd asked the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter answered, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:37b-38). Those who heard and received the Word were baptized, and on that day the Spirit added about three thousand people to the church (see Acts 2:41).
That is what the Holy Spirit did on that early Pentecost, and that is what He is doing still today. Through the proclamation of the Word, in Baptism and the Lord's Supper, in the forgiveness of sins, the Spirit unites the church in a communion—a fellowship—that extends across the centuries. The Spirit binds us "age to age and soul and soul," until we join with all the saints in eternal fellowship and offer our Spirit-born praise before the throne of God.
THE PRAYER: Holy Spirit, we pray that You would work through our witness to set captive sinners free and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling," which is found on page 650 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. How do you know the Holy Spirit is working in your life?
2. How would you describe the Holy Spirit to someone?
3. Do you think believers in the first century were more aware of the Holy Spirit and the way He operates than we are today? Why or why not?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"