This part of the Creed was added in 381 at the Council of Constantinople. Even though the Church had been baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for centuries, the statement was necessary to counter the false teaching that the Holy Spirit was not God.
The Holy Spirit is an important Person of the Trinity, Who helps us live our faith every day. Our faith journey can be challenging. We face many temptations, and it would be impossible to successfully make this journey alone. Jesus, at His ascension, promised help to His disciples: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples was the fulfillment of this promise, and also marked the earthly beginning of the Church. We celebrate this beginning (and the descent of the Holy Spirit) every year at the Feast of Pentecost.
Without the Holy Spirit, where would we be? The Holy Spirit within us is our connection to God. He enables us to live courageously. The Holy Spirit inspires us to love and forgive. The Holy Spirit also makes the mysteries possible and unites us to one another during the Eucharist. United as a eucharistic community, we exist within the Kingdom – the Church – while on earth. The Holy Spirit guides the Church.
“In the Bible the term ‘God…’ is used primarily as a name for the Father. Thus, the Son is the ‘Son of God,’ and the Spirit is the ‘Spirit of God.’ The Son is born from the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father — both in the same timeless and eternal action of the Father’s own being. In this view, the Son and the Spirit are both one with God and in no way separated from Him. Thus, the divine Unity consists of the Father, with His Son and His Spirit distinct from Himself and yet perfectly united together in Him.” (Hopko, “Doctrine,” p. 139)
Salvation is the work of the Trinity: the Father created us with a desire for union with Him. When union was lost, Christ opened the path of salvation and reunion. It is the Holy Spirit Who enables us to walk the path.
Discuss these common phrases with your Sunday Church School students: “school spirit” and “spirit of liberty.” Ask what each phrase means. Then, look at the word “inspiration,” which comes from the root word “spirit.” Talk about “spirit” – is it real? How so? Talk about the word “inspiration” itself: It is a part of our life that we cannot see, but we know is real. Ask your students, “What does it mean to be inspired? Who inspires you?” Talk together as a class about possible comparisons that could complete this statement: “Spirit is to inspiration as ________ is to __________!”
As Orthodox Christians, we are inspired by a Person. This Person’s role is exactly that – to inspire! The Person is the Holy Spirit, Who has been inspiring people for as long as there have been people living on earth! Talk together about how He inspires you and how to be more aware of His presence in your life.
Find a myriad of inspiring stories and quotes at http://inspiremykids.com/.