S-1498 PS/3B 5/24/2015 Hymns: (O) #234; (S) # 233; LS. #304; #307; #312; (C) #225
Texts: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Acts 2:1-21; 15:26-27; 16:4-15
Theme: “Guided by the Spirit” (16:12-13)
Question: “Who guides you in life?” CONFIRMATION and PENTECOST SUNDAY
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for Pentecost and Confirmation Sunday is from the Gospel: [Jesus said,] “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come” ( John 16:12-13).
Beloved children of the heavenly Father, last week I told you the story of a robin who for almost 24 hours was attempting to find her nest after the tree was cut down. Few days later I observed that she came back again and again to the same place. For Almost 5 days she continued to come and stand were the tree stood. But it was all futile. By then I am certain the chicks had died.
But then, at the end of the week, I saw her building a new nest. How she knew she needed to that, is by instinct that God the Creator put in her makeup. On the one hand it was sad to see her lose her chicks, and on the other it was impressive to see how God’s given instinct moved her to build a new nest for the future chicks.
Today as the Holy Spirit has brought us again to the Lord’s house, to celebrate and observe Pentecost and confirming a young man in the Faith—Zachary Huebner; we thank our good Lord that unlike a robin who has the desire to love her chicks, but lacks the vision to see where her chicks are–our Lord, in His Ascension and sending of His Holy Spirit as our Comforter knows where all His children are, including you, Zachary. Your name is a derivative of the Hebrew name “Zechariah” which means, “The Lord Remembers.” Yes, the Lord has remembered you, and yes, through your life and now confirmation instruction, you have been taught to remember Him. When you kneel shortly at this Altar, with your family and your family of faith, you will remember that He remembers you; you will remember that He keeps you. Every morning He remembers that He has claimed you in the waters of Holy Baptism. When difficult things come, He will remind you of the blessed Word that He has implanted into your heart. When you sin, He will renew you as He brings you to repentance–living out your Baptismal grace. Yes, today is grand!
In the Gospel reading today, we learn of Jesus’ promise that He will send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth. By the working of the Holy Spirit, you know the grace of God in Jesus Christ. With the wisdom and complete love of the Holy Spirit to guide you and all of us on the journey of life, we shall surely be not in the nest of a bird, but certainly in the nail-pierced hands of Him who holds the whole world, in that same Palm of His Hand! PAUSE.
Since the Savior promised that when He ascended to His Father’s right hand, it was not to leave us, for indeed, as you learned in Catechism, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Thus, as Hebrews records for us, we know that He did not leave us, did not leave you, did not forsake us, did not forsake you, Zachary. Indeed, He sent His Holy Spirit. On Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after His resurrection Jesus fulfilled yet another promise made to His disciples.
The Apostles in faith and hope waited in Jerusalem for that day to come and it did. When the Holy Spirit descended upon them like tongues of fire it guided them in carrying out the mission of Jesus by taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Even, we here, in small town SD, are the recipients of such great blessings given by the same Spirit that guided the Apostles. We stand in the long line of the saints who have believed through their witness (John 17:20)!
It is only through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that was at work in the lives of the followers of Jesus that guided them in all truth, that we too, are guided by the same Spirit that points us to the Savior of mankind—Jesus the Christ (John 16:13).
Today, that same Holy Spirit continues to guide us as we hear His Word and are fed at His table. We see the evidence of His grace and work in the life of Zachary who soon will be confirmed in the faith. That same Spirit will also guide him and guard him as he grows in years and remain grounded in the faith that has been handed down from the Apostles all the way to our time. This guiding that is worked in Him will anchor, support and strengthen Him in the knowledge of the truth that leads to eternal life. PAUSE.
But there is danger for Zachary and all of us who are baptized into the name of Jesus. You see, many times we are just like that robin we keep returning to the same old ways. We know better, we know it is sin; but the old nature in us keeps going back to the same tree just like the robin did—in futility.
Add to that, we live in a very hostile world. The world we live in continuously entices us to walk away from following Jesus. The world strives to blind us from following the light of Christ. And the devil—that shrewd, deceptive and scheming one—is always attempting to guide us away from Christ down a winding path of sin. A sin appears easy and pleasant at first. Tragically, we follow him.
But thank God, we have the Holy Spirit who guides and guards our hearts. Thank God that as Jesus shared this discourse with His disciples in the Upper Room He said: “There are many things He wanted to say to the disciples but they were not ready.” They needed by His grace, to remain under the guidance of the Spirit so that they would serve and share the power of the Gospel with others.
So, too, are you Zachary. In so many ways YOU are not ready. There is so much more to learn. And learn it you shall… under His guidance and by His grace. And, dear one Remembered by the Lord, you are ready… ready to repent of your sins daily… ready to kneel here and taste and see that the Lord is good… ready to witness with you to one another and to the lost world out there that this God of Water, Bread, and Wine is also the God who abides with you, every day and in every way!
Today is a very important day not only because you will be confirmed—but because God is coming to you in a very new and special way—through His Body and Blood under the bread and wine. It is indeed a joy beyond measure because the Holy Spirit will guide you to rely on these gifts from today until the Lord calls you home.
It is also special to your parents, grandparents and the family of faith known as Redeemer Lutheran. For they too, by the grace of God have guided you in the way you should go. They have invested in your life. They have brought you to God’s holy house. They have prayed for you and will continue to pray for you and so will your family of faith. PAUSE.
What a blessing for us as the baptized children of the heavenly Father, to be brought here today. For today once more the grace of God is poured upon us as the Holy Spirit guides us to see our need for Jesus.
Here, the Holy Spirit causes us to confess and acknowledge that many times we have sinned against God in word and deed. Here, the Holy Spirit drives us in repentance to cry out to God to have mercy upon us because of our disobedience. Here, the Holy Spirit guides us to say, “Lord, I need You in my life. Without You I can do nothing.”
Here, by grace through faith, we follow the guiding of the Holy Spirit to be used by Him as the Holy Apostles were used to spread the message of His salvation and grace that He freely gives us through His death and resurrection.
Precious children of God—each and every one of you— and especially you Zachary, remember that in this place the Holy Spirit will guide and continues to guide you until you reach the Promised Land—heaven. You are not under the watchful eye of a Robin who cannot see, but of the Holy Spirit who comforts and keeps you ALWAYS! Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA