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Monday, April 28, 2014

04272014 Confirmation Sunday and 1st Sunday After Easter

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Christ is risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!

These words were spoken numerous times while I was in Israel in 1999.  Going with a large group of people we visited many of the most holy sites while “In the Footsteps of Jesus”!  When we gathered in the historic site of the Garden Tomb, with the stone rolled away, hearing the words, “He is Risen Indeed”, brought a collective air of not only fulfillment, but also joy to know that our Savior, Jesus Christ had risen from the Dead.  Jesus Christ had conquered death and death no longer would have dominion.

Yet, the sacrifice that was made by Jesus Christ seems minimal to some.  In our day and age what Jesus Christ accomplished for some is more myth and legend.  Consider those who go to the movies they see movies like Thor that talk of a Norse God, great entertainment.  Please understand, I love these movies and enjoy the opportunity to immerse myself in this for a few hours.  Another place where Jesus sacrifice is questioned is in colleges that say the Bible is only literature or that faith is not a valid concept or something to be believed in.  A perfect example is the movie, “God is Not Dead” that will be at our theater in the coming weeks.  The premise is that God is Dead.  Ironically this was true Good Friday, Jesus Christ, God’s Son was dead.  But now after Easter Sunday, Jesus Christ is not dead, He is alive, risen from the dead and we today celebrate this accomplishment that was for all of mankind, but especially for each and every one of us gathered here at Emmanuel.

Jesus Christ sacrifice we remember today, especially when we partake of the Sacrament of the Altar.  In and by our partaking of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood we celebrate, not death, but the sacrifice and life He offers us in this Holy Meal.  As you can see before us I have a chalice and paten.  These are special to me and for all of us for two reasons.  But first, let’s pull out our bulletin insert and respond to the simple question, What is Sacrament of the Altar?  The Sacrament of the Altar What is Sacrament of the Altar?  It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and drink.  Let’s ask God to empower and enrich us with His Body and Blood in prayer.

Gracious Heavenly Father, in our Easter celebration, we know we receive Your true Body and Blood sacrificed for us that strengthens us in our pilgrimage here on earth.  Enable us to not only embrace what we receive from Your Holy Hands, but that it will enable us to understand more fully the forgiveness You offer to all of mankind in Your Holy Supper.  For this is for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here this morning for Confirmation Sunday at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

The chalice and paten before us this morning I bought when I was in Israel.  While on that trip, I saw myself in the future in ministry in a congregation offering the Lord’s Supper with this Paten and with this Chalice.  Where the gifts of God would be offered with the words, “Given and Shed for you for the forgiveness of sins”.  This promise by God fulfilled in the Garden Tomb with the clear expression of “He is Risen”, is a clear reminder of God’s promises made for all of mankind, but especially for each and every one of us gathered here this morning.

It is not only clear with a simple Chalice and Paten bought in Israel, but made manifest for we as God’s Children here this morning, because this same Chalice and Paten was used at my ordination here at Emmanuel.  When I laid on the floor, giving my life into the ministry as your shepherd, God in a clear way entered my life in a much deeper form and fashion.  But I was not becoming a god like Thor, I couldn’t and wouldn’t be equal to God like Jesus Christ.  However, when that Chalice and Paten were handed to me as a symbol of the sacrament that would be celebrated from the Altar of God, it was to be a reminder of the grace God would offer to each of us in the Words, “Given and Shed for you for the forgiveness of sins”.

You see it is the firm belief that no matter who holds the office of pastor, the worthiness of the pastor is not what is important.  Because I am sinful, just as anyone else.  What we receive in the Sacrament of the Altar is the gift of pure grace from God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  This is God’s gift to and for all of mankind, but especially all of us who believe the words, “Given and Shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  But it is even more appropriate for us here today.

This morning we as a church will confirm three individuals, Autumn, Peyton and Powell.  Today these three children of our congregation will take the responsibility of their faith upon their own shoulders this morning.  No longer will they in the eyes of the church be seen, understood, nor should they act nor be treated as children by anyone in the congregation.  Today, they take the vows of responsibility of their individual faiths upon themselves.  We have provided Sunday School to teach them the stories of the bible.  We have given them the Holy Scriptures in their hands in order that they read it themselves and understand their faith.  We have as a congregation provided them with the Small and Large Catechism and instructed them in Luther’s explanation of what God offers them not only in Holy Baptism, which they have been baptized into, but also in the Lord’s Supper which they received at First Communion.  Today, Autumn, Peyton and Powell stand before we their fellow heirs of eternal life and take their place as God’s baptized and soon to be confirmed members in the Body of Christ.

But it is more significant than that, today, the church celebrates with them their entrance into the ranks of the people of God as not only fellow heirs of eternal life, fellow partakers of the food they already receive around the altar of our Lord, but especially their entrance as adults around the table of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Yes, they have previously partaken of this heavenly meal, but today, Autumn, Peyton and Powell partake, knowing they now have ultimate responsibility of their faith, in their preparation, further instruction, discernment and nurturing their own personal growth in their relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is my prayer that in their lives that this meal that we receive today and in the future will strengthen them on their journey and pilgrimage and continue to nourish them to be God’s instrument in the spread of the Gospel message.  For God’s message of salvation of what Jesus Christ did on Calvary and offers us today in this Holy Supper with pure grace and mercy is for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel to celebrate Autumn, Peyton and Powell’s Confirmation.  AMEN.

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