Monday, May 12, 2014

“The Precious Gift” (Luke 18:15-17 and other texts) Confirmation Day

S-1431 4SOE/3A 5/11/2014 Hymns: LSB(O) #689; (S) #577; LS. 628; 633; 629; (C) #550

Texts: Deuteronomy 6:4-15; Acts 2:37-41; Luke 18:15-17

Theme: “The Precious Gift” (Luke 18:15-17 and other texts) Confirmation Day

Question: “Are you grounded in the Word?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text for this special day of Confirmation is based on the Gospel lesson: “Now they were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, saying, Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:15-17).

Precious children of the heavenly Father, today is a special day to the Catechumens (soon-to-be communicant members), their parents and this congregation. It is a special day because today these young people get to confess the faith they have been taught and receive the Precious Gift of the Altar that Christ had instituted and delivered to us through His death and resurrection.

It is a special day to the young people because they no longer have to sit in Pastor’s class and listen to him as he teaches them the truth as taught by Luther based on the inerrant Scripture. No longer do you have to memorize scriptures, write sermon reports and take quizzes and tests. They may feel wow we made it! We are done! Thank You Jesus! We completed the requirements Pastor said we needed! But far from it! You, are not done because you are not graduating, you are just continuing to grow in the knowledge of the grace and mercy of God as you remain steadfast in the teachings that has been given to you.

Therefore, in my sermon this morning I am going to address first, the Catechumens; second, their parents and third, the congregation of believers assembled here.

These words are spoken to Jamin, Paige and Mason. I pray what I am about to share with you will help you draw ever nearer to Your Savior Jesus, who suffered, died, rose on the third day, ascended into heaven and is coming back to take you to be with Him forever. PAUSE.

A colleague of mine Rev. Lee Hagen from Concordia, MO wrote a letter to His daughter Caroline for her confirmation day last Sunday. Please listen to Pastor Hagen speak to his daughter.

January 9, 2000 on the church’s calendar was the Baptism of our Lord, but it was also your baptism.  The sign of the cross was made over your head and heart as Christ marked you one of His own.  As God placed His name on you through the water and the Word, Christ’s baptism became your baptism, His death your death and His resurrection yours also.  You were brought into God’s Kingdom by God’s grace, the work of the Holy Spirit

By the grace of God Caroline was given a precious gift—becoming a child of the heavenly Father. But so have you three as your parents in obedience to God’s command and love for you brought you to the Font on September 6, 1998 (Jamin); February 13, 2000 (Paige); and May 11 (today), 2000 (Mason) respectively.  As such, you too, received the gift of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.

But your parents didn’t stop there, they did what our text stated, “They carried you into the presence of Jesus so that He might bless you and forgive your sins. And the blessings came as you sat week in and week out and listened to the Word proclaimed. They brought you to midweek and Catechism classes so that you may know what the Savior in love has done for you—went to the cross to pay for all of your sins. For the last two years they were your encouragers to remain steadfast in the Word so that as you grow up in years, you will hold to the life-giving Word no matter what may come.

Let me state it clearly, this Word, the ONLY true and lasting Word of Jesus is what you need in life. It will guide and guard your hearts and it will point you to the God of your salvation—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Because your parents loved you, they brought you to His house where His Word is taught in all of its truth and the Sacraments administered according to His teaching. I therefore encourage you though you need no longer be here on a weekly basis for your Catechism classes; please don’t stop reading, studying the Word daily and coming to His house and to His table often. Because His living Word will energize you, equip you and exhorts you to live as His redeemed children. Through the Word of God you will learn how precious you are in His sight and how much He loves you—enough to die and rise for you.

On Thursday, as I was spending my favorite day of the month-visiting the shut-ins to commune them. Two ladies with tears in their eyes wept saying, “Pastor, I miss not being able to be in church on a weekly bases!” How sad that they can’t come though they want to. Please don’t be like the majority of the young people in our LCMS. 50% of our confirmands never come back to church. They have graduated and have nothing to do with church.

Therefore, Jamin, Paige and Mason, in the name of Christ I implore you to remain steadfast in that which you have been taught and trust that Word that will set you free. Through the Word you will continue to be reminded of your sins and the grace of God that is being poured upon you on account of Christ Your Savior. The more you spend time in the Word the more you appreciate the sacrifice Jesus has given you—suffering for you, dying for you and rising for you.

Let me share with you a true story of how valuable it is to be in contact with the Word and how that Word changes lives for the better. A man worte:

“I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home. By the age of 7, I had most of the Hebrew Scriptures memorized. By the age of nine years, I could speak fluent Galilean Aramaic—the language of Christ. By the age of 13, I had already been studying Greek. By the age of 17, I was ordained as an Orthodox rabbi. By the age of 19, I was dean of the largest rabbinical school in Brooklyn, New York, and in my career, I ordained some 327 other rabbis. I taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Harvard Divinity School. I did a doctorate in New Testament studies—because I wanted to know my enemy—and I was a thoroughly happy Orthodox Rabbi…until one night.

I was in Boston on business for a graduate school where I served as dean, and Delta Airlines did me the greatest favor in my life: they lost my luggage. All I had with me was a Hebrew Bible and a small volume of Jewish law. But for some reason, that night it did not interest me. I turned on the television, but I couldn’t get interested in that either. I started opening drawers, and in one drawer, I found a red Gideon Bible.

Let me remind you that I had a doctorate in Jewish backgrounds of the New Testament, I had read most of the Scriptures in the original Greek, and I had read all the first century commentaries on it, so I was sure I knew all the answers back and forth. But I didn’t believe a word of that Book until that night when it opened by itself to the book of John and I began to really read it, through the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

By the time I got to Nicodemus and Jesus’ teaching on being born again, my eyes were tearing up, my body was trembling, and I didn’t know what to do. I thank the Lord that the Holy Spirit entered me that night for the first time in my life. I spent the rest of the night going through the Gideon New Testament, seeing how it fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecy I had learned from childhood. I had never trembled so much before, nor been so scared in my life. But I know that without that red Gideon Bible in that hotel room, I would be lost for eternity. God is good, and Jesus is Lord and Savior. The sainted Dr. Herb Opalek (Remember Your Creator Arabic/English Magazine Issue No. 91 April, 2014 p. 3)

By the grace of God this former Jew whose enemy was Jesus became a believer in Jesus Christ. He believed what that Word taught that he became a pastor and taught the faith and died in this one true faith at age 66. What a precious gift he received. Likewise, you too, have a glorious gift in the Bible. Therefore don’t stop reading it and studying it because you are now confirmed. On the contrary use it daily. Study it at every opportunity and remember as you grow older and in time the Lord gives you a godly spouse pass this precious gift to the next generation as we are encouraged by Moses to do. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

As your pastor I will miss not having you in my classroom. I will miss not having the opportunity to spend time one on one teaching you the life-giving truth of God’s holy Word. But I will be here to encourage you in your studies of the Word as you gather around your family of faith to hear the Word proclaimed and to partake of the Meal of Love given in the True Body and Blood of Your Savior, Jesus Christ. I plead with you never ignore the Word. Continue to hold it dear and read it often and gather in His house often. PAUSE.

My second part is to the parents:

As your pastor I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking to heart the admonition of Jesus as the text states by bringing your children to His bosom that He may bless them, forgiving their sins and enriching their lives. I commend you for being loving, caring, faithful, and my partners in teaching the faith in word and example


You didn’t only just bring your children to the Font or to Catechism classes. No, you were here to be a beacon of light so that you too, as a child of God, might learn the truth and partake of the Precious Gift of the Altar. You brought them here to receive the forgiveness of sins Jesus offers to ALL through His shed blood on Calvary’s cross.

You supported the ministry with your presence, services and with your offerings. You helped your children study. You invested in their lives to come to this point where they are able to confess the faith and walk humbly along with you to receive the blessings.

Now that your children have reached this special time in their lives, I implore to continue to be faithful and diligent. Continue to show them in word and deed that you are a follower of Jesus; by putting Him first in your lives, by serving Him and being obedient to Him as Moses and Luke reminds you to do. As you do so, you are leaving a heritage that will bless your children and guide them on the path to eternity. May the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ bless your efforts as you demonstrate your love to Him by continuing to live as His blood-bought children. PAUSE.

And now I would like to speak to this beautiful and awesome congregation known as Redeemer Lutheran Church.

What a privilege and honor I have to be your pastor. With you, in this place we gather together by the power of the Holy Spirit. Here we study, we pray, we confess our sins and we dine together at the Table of the Lord. In this place we mature in our study of the eternal truth that speaks of the eternal Gospel. This is indeed a blessing beyond words. But what makes you indeed extra special is that you take to heart the Words of Jesus. You take to heart the truth spoken of in Scripture. You take to heart the responsibilities in making sure that young and old alike learn all they can about the saving work of Jesus on Calvary’s cross.

Ever since I have been your pastor you have constantly gone out of your way to make sure that we have enough Lutheran materials to teach the faith. You have constantly budgeted enough funds that the young and the old learn of Jesus’ grace. You in word and deed exemplified the meaning of a church—one who have been called out of darkness of sin to live in the light of God’s grace. A Church that cares to pass on the faith to the next generation. A Church that stands on the whole Bible as the only truth and norm; by which we live, move and have our being. A Church that practices to live as people of God showing our life together in mercy to others and pouring upon many the love of Jesus because we have tasted it ourselves. A Church that lives not only to itself but seeing the harvest fields and the many souls who don’t know Jesus yet.

How thankful I am to be your pastor. To work hand in hand with you to edify the saints, expand His kingdom and exalt His name. On this special Day of Confirmation I want to thank you for the role you play in shaping and forming the lives of the younger generation that they may grow like you trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for their salvation. May the Lord Jesus who died and rose for you continue to bless your wonderful life in serving Him and His people.

Finally, I close with the words of my colleague Pastor Lee Hagen from the same letter he wrote to his daughter: “Caroline, you have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection.  You have died to yourself and now risen as God’s new creation.  So it is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you.  That means that Christ works through you whether teaching children or caring for the sick.  So whether it is wife and mother or worker or all of the above, may you find joy in being who God has called you to be – His beloved child!”

Thus, I say to you beloved children of God, rejoice in the Lord always and I say it again rejoice! Rejoice because you are Baptized, Redeemed, Forgiven, Blood-bought and Heaven-bound children. Rejoice on this special day of Confirmation not only for these three young people, but for all of us who are privileged and honored to be guests at the Table of the Lord to receive the Precious Gift of His Body and Blood.

May God grant us the constant joy and peace in knowing this Precious Gift is given to each and every one of us in this room—because Jesus loves us always. Amen.

Now the peace…


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