The Lord and giver of life.
This is how the third article of the Nicene Creed begins. We confess belief in the Holy Spirit, who is not only our Lord, but the one who gives life to all creation, including the Church.
This claim, of course, stands in stark contrast to much of the rhetoric we hear today about the decline of the Church. Why are so many resigned to failure? After all, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. If this is so, then the decline of the Church is not inevitable. By contrast, it is unthinkable.
I’m not denying the numeric downturn in mainline Protestantism over the last forty years or so. Those numbers tell a particular story, and there are reasons that the story has played out in the way that it has. But the language of failure, fear, and decline is not God’s language. That is not the language of people who confess that we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.
Then again, the Nicene Creed doesn't get much play in many mainline and evangelical churches today. That, in fact, could be part of the problem. What if, each week, we confessed this creed, with the bold proclamation of its third article? Would an awareness of and belief in the Holy Spirit as the Lord and giver of life make a difference for our churches? I, for one, would like to find out.