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The Feast of Pentecost – John 14:23-31

by pastorjuhl ~ May 19th, 2010

Cody Christopher Brownfield is confirmed this Sunday. Some thoughts written by Rev. W.C. Weedon are in this sermon.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

When Jesus says if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, he does not mean to keep His word out of sight and out of mind. Imagine if the disciples left that place in Acts chapter two and went back to their homes. Jesus said if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. They keep His word by never talking about it. They keep His word to themselves. There’s no need to tell the Good News about Jesus. Everything that Jesus said concerning what would happen after His ascension has happened.

If that were the case, Acts chapter two would be the last chapter in the New Testament. There would be no need to witness the resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the entire world. There would be no stoning of Saint Stephen. There would be no conversion of Saint Paul. There would be no Ethiopian eunuch baptized by Saint Philip. Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, might never have heard the Gospel. Eleven of the twelve apostles would not die contending for the faith. They did as they were told. They loved the Lord so much that they kept His word…away from everyone else.

Now and then, I walk past the pictures of those who were confirmed here back in the “good old days”. This congregation just about has a perfect record concerning these men and women keeping His word to themselves. Some have moved away. Others have joined another congregation. Many stay home each weekend. What’s their excuse? Perhaps each one has a different excuse. One of the most popular excuses is “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”

Search the Scriptures and see whether that is true. You will find that phrase is neither Scriptural nor true. If I decided one Sunday just to skip Church that week, do you think anyone would notice? “Ah,” you say, “but you’re the pastor.” Yes, I agree, they would notice. Nevertheless, it also makes a difference when you decide to skip Church.

Each Sunday is a gathering of the family. When a beloved family member doesn’t show up for the family gathering and meal at Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving, there’s a hole, a gap, and a pain that everyone feels. We’re all the less for that person not being with us to revel in the celebration of that day. Their absence diminishes the joy of the family. So when you choose to skip on Sunday; when you don’t come together with your church family to join in offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and to receive the gifts your Lord has for you, it’s not just you that miss out. Your extended family – the Church – misses out. They are diminished by your decision to absent yourself. The singing is that much quieter. Amens are that much softer. The spot where you usually sit and stand reminds us all of your absence.

Christian discipleship should begin with a very simple commitment that any given Lord’s Day will find you in the assembly of God’s people, singing His praise, offering your prayers, receiving His gifts. The only reasons for missing is because you’re too sick to be present or because you’re away travelling – and even in the latter case, blessed are you if you find the family gathered in that location and join with them.

Cody Christopher Brownfield is baptized into this Christian Church with water and the Word of God. He is a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Confirmation neither makes him a member of the Church nor bestows a fuller participation in the Christian Church. Both these happened at his baptism. The reason for celebration today is that Cody has been instructed in apostolic doctrine by Luther’s Small Catechism. He was taught and examined in this doctrine and was absolved of his sins. Today he receives Christ’s True Body and Blood for the first time…and hopefully not for the last time.

Cody, in a few minutes you will make a few commitments that will be next to impossible to keep. Don’t worry, Cody, even Saint Peter said he would never fall away from the faith but did just that when he denied his Lord three times. When you break the commitments of your confirmation vows, there is forgiveness. Don’t look for that forgiveness in a Coca-Cola can. Don’t look for that forgiveness at your favorite fishing hole. Don’t look for forgiveness in video games, sleeping bags, or on the baseball diamond. Look for forgiveness of sins where the Holy Spirit directs you to seek forgiveness. Look for forgiveness from Christ’s representative in Christ’s habitation. There was forgiveness and restoration for Saint Peter. There is forgiveness and restoration for Cody Brownfield and for you too.

Keeping Christ’s word means to hearken to it, to listen carefully to everything He tells you. Jesus tells you today that His ascension brings comfort because the Holy Spirit comes after Him. The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in [Jesus’] name…will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. When those words come to your remembrance, don’t chalk it up to a flashback from catechism instruction. The words of Jesus come to your remembrance to forgive your sins and strengthen your faith in Christ to life everlasting.

The words of remembrance that are most important for you today, Cody, are the Words of Institution. The Body and Blood of Christ are given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. You learned another word for the Lord’s Supper is Holy Communion. Holy Communion is a holy union between Jesus and His Church. Both are united together in a bond as close as the marriage bond between a man and a woman. Cody, hearken to these words as often as they are proclaimed. These words bring forgiveness and life.

In a little while, I will lay my hands on your head and speak the same words Pastor Wellnitz spoke over you when he laid his hands on your head after your baptism in the summer of 1997. You don’t remember that day because you were a baby. That’s why you’ll hear them again today. Here’s a sneak preview: Cody Christopher, the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given you the new birth of water and of the Spirit and has forgiven you all your sins, strengthen you with His grace to life everlasting. God’s grace has gone with you since then and goes with you today to life everlasting. Cody, welcome to the Lord’s Altar!

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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