Catechism 44

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What is baptism?
Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church.
(New City Catechism)

Why water? First
He hovered, spirit, above the depths,
divided water in sky from land,
said, “Here shall your proud waves be stopped,
here go no further.”

Yet then, when earth
had sickened and man had withered His image,
He took out the stopper and let the waves pour forth.
Now He bids

water flow over bodies
and into hearts, cleansing, reversing
the tides of shame, of uncreation; now pours
Spirit flooding with life, where only
death once hovered.

Take the waves, take
the plunge. Life beckons.
Still His Spirit hovers and breathes
into the dead, still He makes
and remakes and remakes.

Catechism 42

Van Gogh - Stillleben mit Bibel
Van Gogh – Stillleben mit Bibel

How is the Word of God to be read and heard? With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith, store it in our hearts, and practice it in our lives. (New City Catechism)

And teach. Let us be ready:

the hands poised beneath the pages,

holding open, as in prayer;

the eyes attuned, the ears listening,

the spirit waiting,

the Spirit turning

hearts to hear and grow.

And store:

though minds are dull

and eyes may wander,

teach and hold

and store within

the mind’s recesses truths received.

Rebuke! Transform!

Let grace unfold

in pages turned in time, absorbed,

ingested, stored in minds and souls,

ready now to grow.

Catechism 37

Detail from a painting by Antonio da Correggio Wikimedia Commons
Detail from a painting by Antonio da Correggio
Wikimedia Commons

Catechism 37

How does the Holy Spirit help us?

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, comforts us, guides us, gives us spiritual gifts and the desire to obey God; and he enables us to pray and to understand God’s Word.

(New City Catechism)

Dove:

my best attempts are straw.

My righteousness is dust, my hope

of being more is void.

Dove:

Your peace like river flows;

your olive branch restores, implores

us into growing grace.

Dove:

rest on my spirit; open eyes

and ears and heart. Give gifts,

give life. Give comfort in this dross.

Dove:

only when Your flame descends,

and burns, convicts – O gentle peace –

only then, release.

Catechism 36

What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?
That he is God, coeternal with the Father and the Son, and that God grants him irrevocably to all who believe.
(New City Catechism)

God’s wind blows
wherever it wills –
blows and leads
the soul to life.

The Spirit draws
the dying spirit,
draws and enters,
giving life.

Spirit from
eternal Father:
dwelling in
and never lost:

breathing and
revivifying,
sign and seal
of life to come.

Catechism 35

Since we are redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone, where does this faith come from?
All the gifts we receive from Christ we receive through the Holy Spirit, including faith itself.
(New City Catechism)

Even faith’s a gift:
   the thought
that I can stretch out my hand
     and take
   free gift of grace,
in death does not occur;
     the soul
clings only to the dust,
           unless
respired by gift of faith.

Even faith’s from His hand:
   the Spirit
breathes out life-desiring life
     and life
    breathes hope that there
is more than death ahead.
      What life
desires, the Spirit gives.
           Faith first:
for faith itself’s a gift.

Catechism 32

What do justification and sanctification mean?

Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.

(New City Catechism)

 
First, declared –
            altogether
                        undeserved.
First a righteousness which comes
            from above
in shower, blood,
            avenging love.
                        First the gavel’s pound upon
            the bench declares
                        salvation.
 
Then the change –
            “As you are, and
                        have been called –
now be each day. Now live a life
                        worthy of
this calling, worthy
            of this Life.”
                        First the calling, first New Life,
            then life transformed
                        by Spirit.

Catechism 31

What do we believe by true faith?
Everything taught to us in the gospel. The Apostles’ Creed expresses what we believe in these words…
(New City Catechism)

We believe:
Almighty Father –
      maker of
all living things,
      all things
             sustaining,
      holding all.

We believe:
One Son, one Lord –
       Jesus Christ, virgin-born,
Spirit-conceived,
       the beaten,
             suffering,
       dying King.

We believe:
Christ crucified –
      died and buried,
rose again,
      ascended now to
            heaven’s throne
      to judge and ever reign.

We believe:
One Holy Ghost –
      one holy, whole,
Apostle-church,
      all saints communing,
            sins forgiven,
       everlasting

life to come.