IN NOMINE JESU
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially Becca, Deven, and Kylee:
Are you ready? Are you excited? Are you nervous? Itís a big day, the biggest of your young lives to this point. Iím thrilled for you and for the Church. Your day here it is not just big; itís hugeónot just in your lives individually but in the life of this congregation, as, for the first time in over a decade, she gets to see her son and daughters make public confirmation of the baptism you each received years agoówhether at this particular baptismal font or at anotheróbaptized in and into the Name of the one true God, the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Your mother, the Church, gets to hear you confess the faith you have been taught from the Bible and, subsequently, Dr. Martin Lutherís Small Catechism. In a few moments you will make, and God and the Church will hear, your confession of faith in ďone Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you allĒ (vv. 5-6), the confession you have been called to confess before God and men, for ďthe Holy Spirit has called [you] by the Gospel, enlightened [you] with His gifts, sanctified and kept [you] in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faithĒ (3rd Article). And in a few moments the whole world will know what you believe and in whom you believe: in Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior, the One whom the Prophets foretold in the Old Testament and of whom the Apostles and Evangelists wrote and preached in the New Testament, the same Jesus who went to the cross to bleed and die for your sins, the same Jesus who rose from the dead to give you eternal life in heaven with Him.
This is a most joyous occasion, but it is also one that is solemn in character, too. What I mean is that you three are about to stand before the altar of the Lord and make vows before Him and this congregation. You are about to publicly confess that you acknowledge the gifts God gave you in Holy Baptism; that you renounce the devil and all his works and ways; that you confess your faith in the only true God, the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and that you hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God; that you confess that the faith you have been taught here is faithful and true. In a few moments you also vow to hear the Word of God and receive the Lordís Supper faithfullyóin other words, that you will be in Divine Service each Lordís Day to receive His gifts of the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation. You will also vow to live according to Godís Word and to live in faith, word, and deed faithfully to the Triune God. You will also vow that you will continue steadfast in this faith and Church, being willing to die for your confession of faith. These are very serious words, and words mean thingsówords that the Holy Spirit gives you to speak, that you would walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, called to be Christians: children of God, redeemed by the blood of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Words mean things, but all too often people donít mean the words they speak. We are reminded of this during every election cycle. But as you get older, you will find yourself faced with many temptations to remain away from the Lordís house, from His Word and Sacraments, and from the Christian faith altogether. Temptations, peer pressure, and hormones are among the devilís favorite instruments to pull you away from Christ. Satan will use his best weapons on you as he does on all adolescents: the lures of premarital sexual intercourse, teenage drinking and smoking, drug use, Sunday morning activities that would keep you away from here. Heís going to tempt you to make friends with those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, hoping that they would encourage you to believe what they believe. Itís tough. Being a teen, or even a ďtweener,Ē is dangerous. And without faith in Christ, without the Holy Spirit at work in you, this time of your lives would be even more dangerous. It is a terrible thing to be without the Lord.
But take heart, my young friends in Christ! You are NOT alone! GOD is with you: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Through the living waters of Holy Baptism your heavenly Father has called you His child, forgiven you your sins, and given you the gift of eternal life. He sent His Son Jesus, true God and true Man, to bleed and die on the cross to take away your sin and the sin of the whole world. This same Jesus rose from the dead on the third day so that you would have this eternal life in heaven, celebrating at the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end. It is this same Lambís body you will eat and blood you will drink here at His Table, Jesusí body given and His blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. On a day when things are made right in the Church, so also your Lord makes you right, giving you through Word and Sacraments the gifts He won on the cross for you.
Not only does God the Father forgive you on account of His Sonís crucified body and shed blood, the Holy Spirit strengthens your faith. The Holy Spirit brought you to believe in and confess Jesus Christ as Lord; He has brought you here to the Lordís house and to His Table; He has given you the greatest weapon of all in the face of temptation: the Bible. Here Godís Word gives you the words to speak when you want to say no to the devil, the world, and your sinful nature. Jesus used Holy Scripture against the devil, and you get to, as well. And when youíre running low or feeling weak in your faith, the Holy Spirit brings you back here to give you rest, to give you a re-charge as you hear Godís Word and receive Jesusí body and blood week in and week out. You see, confirmation is not a graduation from church; it is a rite of passage, a rite that makes it right to eat Christís body and drink His blood. It is an opportunity to continue hearing and learning from Godís Word because catechesis is a lifelong process, from cradle to grave, from the womb to the tomb. This is what you get to do, for it is a joy to have the Lord be with you, giving you His gifts and showering you with His blessings. So I as your pastor encourage you to remember your Baptism; remember who you are and Whose you are: children of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Among the confirmation gifts you receive today are hymnals given to you by the congregation and Bibles from your families. As your pastor, I encourage you to make good and frequent use of them. Wear them out. You cannot destroy Godís Word or the Churchís song by wearing out a Bible or a hymnal. These precious gifts are there for you to learn from God and to sing praises to Him, giving Him thanks for the Word the Holy Spirit inspired men to write and for the hymns He has given the Church to sing. I leave you with words the Holy Spirit inspired the blessed apostle St. Paul to write to the Ephesians:
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. [Eph. 3:15-17 NKJV]
And again, this time from the letter to the Hebrews:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the [Last] Day drawing near. [Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV] God grant this in Jesusí Name and for His sake. Amen.
SOLI DEO GLORIA
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