Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sermon April 13-14, 2013 Confirmation Sunday

Title: Worthy is the Lamb and so too are all who are in Christ!

Text: Rev.5:8-14

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Pastor, A.W. Tozer once remarked, "The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot concern him very long."

Tim Hansel, Eating Problems for Breakfast, Word Publishing, 1988, p. 33.

Life is all too short when you see it from the perspective of retirement and second careers. At least that is what it feels like to me at times. Last weekend I shared my sister’s email and thoughts concerning the 25th anniversary of my mother’s passing. Back in February we celebrated 50 years as a congregation here at Peace and were blessed to have some charter members still active in worship here. Pastor Merrell retired on January 6th after my ordination and installation as pastor here at Peace after 32 years of faithful service … I’m sure that seemed to go by way too fast?

And, today we confirm 8 of our young teen members into the Christian faith. Where has the time gone? I remember many of these students, who are today ready to be confirmed when I taught them in Sunday School as kindergartners  Can it really have gone by so quickly? We’ll I’m sure that for them it has seemed that they have been studying and have heard these truths of the Christian faith … like all of their lives.

Today we celebrate with them the joy of being confirmed in Christ. On confirming what God did in their baptism by the Holy Spirit, bringing them to faith and now being made members of his church here at Peace. May our Lord continue to bless and keep them in this one true faith now and forever because …

Worthy is the Lamb and so too are all who are in Christ!

The book of Revelation as was used as the sermon text for last week is so used today. Because of its imagery and symbolism it was early on questioned by theologians and even Martin Luther who said early on in his career:

… let everyone think of it as his own spirit leads him. My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it. But to teach Christ, this is the thing which an apostle is bound above all else to do; as Christ says in Acts 1, "You shall be my witnesses." Therefore I stick to the books which present Christ to me clearly and purely.

But, Luther would eventually change his thoughts on the book of Revelation, and some of our text today might suggest why:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

Jesus Christ, the worthy Lamb of God who was slain and has been raised for you.

Worthy is the Lamb and so too are all who are in Christ!

Confirmation! Today I have a bunch of mixed emotions. Wow, where has all the time gone. I remember so many of these students sine I began teaching Sunday school. Some I also look up to as they've grown so tall.

I have been blessed to serve here and now to be able to confirm what God had done in their baptisms that they too will confirm.

But, there can be a downside as well. So many once confirmed stop attending. I’ve see the effect hear a t Peace and it is a very common problem throughout our synod. Why you might ask? Well, there are a number of reasons. One might be because of a broken home. Living in two places for children can make it difficult at best to stay connected. In a broken home who takes the responsibility, mom or dad or both. Children can’t drive so for many it falls to friend or relatives. I thank the Lord for all of you who made it possible for these children to get here. Now, all the more, it is important to have them remain connected to God and His word.

At times too, different homes can mean different churches and this can also mean different faiths or beliefs within the Christian Church. This also can have a negative influence to staying connected. But even for those of us who remain married and have only one church to attend there still is an alarming loss of confirmed believers and active worship.

I can only conclude that the work of the sinful nature, the world and the devil continue to pull and try to tear you away from the church and the blessed forgiveness that God wants you to hear. Do not let it happen. Jesus reminds us in John 10:10:

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. And I might add, to rip you away from God’s gifts of word and sacrament But Jesus says that: I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Worthy is the Lamb and so too are all who are in Christ!

I was reminded by one of our Elder’s, I won’t say his name, (Jay Squanda), how many times in a row that we’ve had communion. We’ve had communion on the third Sunday of March and the next two were Palm Sunday and Easter then the first Sunday in April and now Confirmation. If you came to all the services that is five Sunday’s in a row; Praise God that we are free to receive his blessed body and blood for our forgiveness of sins and that these soon to be confirmed students will receive this blessed gift for the first time today as well. And so now I speak to these students directly:

As you are fed with the Lord’s true body and blood in and with the bread and wine today you are always reminded to remember what Christ Jesus’ did for you in His once and for all sacrifice over sin, death and the power of the devil for you.

It is my hope and prayer that you all, by God’s Holy Spirit, will be blessed to receive this gift for the strengthening of you faith.

As I think about confirmation today and these new confirmands I am reminded of my class work from John’s Gospel in Chapter 8 verses 31-32:

 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

As I made some final visits with gene Gidcumb and his family this week it really came to focus for me. The abiding that we do and can do is done in Christ. Because Jesus Christ has united Himself to flesh and, "who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man;" (From our Nicene Creed) we can and do abide as Jesus says - in my word.

It was made truly evident to me as I remember the visitations that I made to see Gene at the hospital and rehab centers over the last 10 months but most recently since being ordained in January. The true and abiding presence of Christ was brought to him in the little case containing the bread and wine and as I spoke Christ´s words of institution over the bread and wine and gave them to Gene saying; "Take eat, this is the true body of Christ given for you and, take drink, this is the true blood of Christ which was shed for the forgiveness of all your sins." Christ true abiding presence was there.

Because Jesus Christ came to abide in the incarnation and unite God and man forever in His person; because He took His abiding presence to the cross, we too abide in His suffering and are connected to his death and because He rose, as we celebrated the empty tomb and His resurrection on Easter Sunday, we too will rise and will abide with Him forever. This was the comfort that I was able to share with Gene and Erna and his family as I met with them at the hospital just hours before he went to be with the Lord.

The truth that we know and the truth that will set you free; is the truth that Jesus, and His abiding presence, will never leave you nor forsake you. His word, both incarnate and proclaimed will not return void. He will come to you and abide with you in the sacrament of the altar, offering you Christ´s true forgiveness that will set you free from sin, death and the power of the devil, so that you are assured of His abiding presence given and shed for you.

We, who have the blessed joy of standing in the stead and by the command of Christ, bring His abiding word of comfort and forgiveness to those gathered together in His name and also bring His true abiding presence to those unable to attend whether home bound or in hospital care. In the same way we remain in His word because He is the true and abiding word which remains for ever with us and in us until the end of the age.

Worthy is the Lamb and so too are all who are in Christ!

As Christ feeds these newly confirmed members of Peace Lutheran Church it is my hope and prayer that they will remain in the abiding presence of our Lord and continue to receive this blessed gift of word and sacrament for the strengthening of their faith now and forever.

God comfort you with this Good News by the Holy Spirit’s work in you.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

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