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Pentecost Day – John 14:23-31

by pastorjuhl ~ May 29th, 2009

Morgan Mitchell and Luxianna Watkins are confirmed today.

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

If Christ is the head of the body and His bride, the Church, is the body of Christ, then the Holy Spirit is the Church’s soul. A body is dead without the soul; it cannot feel, think, or act in any way. Without a soul, the body disintegrates. The Holy Spirit is more than the principle of life for the Church as a single body. The Spirit is also the principle of life for every Christian as an individual within the body of Christ. He gives and preserves divine life in our souls. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can pray and act virtuously (Parsch).

The Holy Spirit is about more than prayer and godly living. The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus Christ and directs us to where we may find forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. If we separate the Feast of Pentecost from Easter and consider these two festivals separately, we might say that Easter without Pentecost is like a body without a soul. The two festivals can’t be separated. They are chained together. The joy of Easter as the justification of Christ’s victory over sin and death rushes through the world like a mighty wind and tongues of fire. The message of Pentecost is the message of Easter: Christ is triumphant over the forces of evil and, by His mandate to the Eleven in Bethany as He ascended into heaven, the preaching of the Gospel, the teaching of apostolic doctrine, and the delivery of the means of grace goes to the entire world. Jesus indeed is with us to the end of the age.

Morgan and Luxianna, it’s been my pleasure to put you both in the midst of the mighty wind and tongues of fire over the past several months. You’ve studied the Scriptures and learned the basic Bible accounts of how mankind is saved from eternal death because of God’s promise of a Savior. You’ve learned how God goes to great measures to keep His promise secure to His chosen people. You studied the Ten Commandments that preach repentance from sin. You studied the Apostles’ Creed that teach Who God is and what God does for you as a baptized child of God. You learned the Lord’s Prayer, the perfect prayer that serves as a skeleton for you to expand as you read the Scriptures and learn more of the language of prayer. You learned why you were baptized and why baptism and belief always go together. You learned how to confess your sins in order to receive Holy Absolution. You learned that you hunger and thirst for the Lord’s Supper to feed your body and soul with the medicine of immortality.

It may seem like I asked you to memorize the whole Bible, but actually your confirmation instruction is the end of the beginning. Much like the connection between Easter and Pentecost, there is a connection between your confirmation, your first communion, and the rest of your life on earth. If we were to separate today from the rest of your life it would seem like a body without a soul. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what so many Lutherans your age do.

Permit me to speak from experience. I have three older brothers; perhaps older or the same age of your parents. Like my older sister and I, my three brothers had a day much like today. They got all dressed up, stood before the congregation, and received a confirmation blessing. They ate and drank Christ’s Body and Blood for the forgiveness of their sins. Not long after their confirmation days, they stopped coming to church. One of my brothers goes to church now and then, but the other two rarely, if ever, step foot inside a church.

Why? They, like many young people your age, figure they have “paid their dues”. The debt to the church is wiped out. Mom and Dad are happy, the grandparents are happy, everybody is happy about my confirmation! Now that I’ve learned all that I need to learn about the Christian faith, I can mosey along with my life and do as I please. No more Bibles, no more catechism books, no more of pastor’s leering looks! I can worship God from my bed, while playing my Wii, in the fishing boat, on the golf course, or any number of other places.

What would have happened to the Bride of Christ if the apostles thought the same thing as a majority of newly confirmed children think? What if these eyewitnesses of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ called it quits and figured someone else would be called and sent to do Christ’s mandate in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the entire world? Maybe the Holy Spirit will show up and do the job Himself! He’ll get busy and we’ll stay home basking in the glow of our accomplishments?

Could the same be said of the one, holy, Christian and Apostolic Church if she didn’t have pastors? People would come to church and wait for the Spirit to do something? What if the Spirit does nothing? What if hours, days, weeks, months, or years go by and nothing happens in church? Everyone sits quietly and waits for the Holy Spirit to show up and give the gifts.

God be praised we don’t have to go through the agony of waiting around for the Holy Spirit! The Word of the Lord grows exponentially in the book of Acts. In Acts chapter one there are a handful who saw Christ after He rose from the dead. By the end of the book, Saint Paul is in prison in Rome and countless thousands of people have heard the preaching of the Gospel and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins. The infant Christian Church also had pastors preaching the Word and administering the Lord’s Supper. Churches begat churches. Christians begat Christians. Even as persecution drove the Church underground, the Word of the Lord grows.

Morgan and Luxianna, the Word of the Lord continues to grow in you. Do not be afraid to make the bold confession of faith before the world and come to Church. You know you are sinners, yet you are also covered in the blood of Christ and baptismal waters that cover you and cleanse you from all sin. Today you will have the Lord’s Supper put in your mouths for the first time. You will eat and drink Christ’s True Body and True Blood, believing that this heavenly banquet is a foretaste of the great feast to come in heaven.

When the temptation to wave goodbye to regular church attendance happens, remember these Words of Jesus first spoken to His disciples shortly before He was betrayed: peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. The Lord’s peace goes with you today as it has since the day you were baptized. The Lord’s peace goes with you after you rise from the communion rail and walk out those doors today. The Lord’s peace will always be here in His house, as we sinners gather around the mercy seat of God in this chancel as beggars opening our mouths, ears, and hearts to receive good things from God.

God bless your confirmation day this Feast of Pentecost with the peace of His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love.

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

1 Response to Pentecost Day – John 14:23-31

  1. Tony James

    Thanks for this sermon. We Christians today can fall into the ways of the world. We become very skeptical about things of faith which we believed when we were young. It is very true that our faith should grow as we grow physically, emotionally and socially but we never seem to allow our faith to grow along with our new experiences of life. What we give up in the first place is prayer. We are hungry for personal relationships among our humankind but are not so hungry for the relationship with our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit renew our faltering faith and claim us as your own.

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