Sunday, May 23, 2010

Going from Here

The Day of Pentecost
Confirmation Day
May 23, 2010
John 14:23-31

There are four people in this whole place who are sitting up here in front. That would seem to indicate that today is all about you. Since you, Allison, Savannah, Jeffrey, and Ryan, are getting confirmed today, that we’re here to celebrate you.

And that wouldn’t be wrong. Today is about you. We are here today to celebrate your being confirmed in the faith. We rejoice that today will be the first day that you will receive the Lord’s Supper for the rest of your life.

But you will walk away from here today when it’s over and drive home. Will you want to go away thinking that today is about you? During this week will you want your excitement to be about Prince of Peace having had a day where you were in the spotlight?

Or, will you go away from here knowing what you have learned for two years in Confirmation Class that it’s always and only about Jesus? What I would like to do today is encourage you to take your cue from Him. Jesus says in the Gospel reading today: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” You know this, that you love Jesus and abide in His Word.

But what I really want you to see is how Jesus takes this. He doesn’t say to His disciples, and to you: It’s all about ME. I’m Jesus, do what I tell you.

What He does is the opposite. He doesn’t sit in the place of honor, He goes to the back. He doesn’t say, I’m God, you must do what I tell you. In exhorting us to love Him and abide in His Word, He says: “the Word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” He submits to His Heavenly Father. For Him, everything is not about Him. It’s true that He doesn’t need anyone, or anything. He does have it all.

But God doesn’t act that way. He doesn’t go around making sure everyone knows that because He is God that it’s all about Him. Jesus instead defers to His Heavenly Father. That’s what I want you to know for today. That’s what I want you to remember the rest of your life. Jesus came, not for Himself, but for you. That’s why you’re here today. It actually is about you. In Jesus’ eyes, it’s all about you. Not Him.

God sees Himself differently than we would imagine ourselves to be if we were God. In two years of Confirmation Class you learned all about God. He’s almighty, He knows everything, He’s present everywhere. But that’s not what you really needed to learn about Him. You needed to know who He is. He can do anything—but He’s not wrapped up in Himself. What you learned about God is that He is humble. He stoops down to you and me, right where we’re at. Jesus defers to His Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit, who is God, is also very happy to be called by Jesus the Helper, as Jesus says in the Gospel reading: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Holy Spirit doesn’t have issues that He is being sent as a helper. He is willing and ready to get out and help us. He rejoices in bringing forgiveness, life, and salvation to us in our Baptism and at this altar when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. He will always work on your behalf to bring you renewal, to strengthen you, to bring to your mind those things you have been taught in Confirmation Class, and as you continue to grow in His Word.

There will be times where there’s a lot going on in your life. Times where you may be frazzled. You may not be able to concentrate on God and His Word. You’ll have a lot on your mind. In those times and at all times remember that to Jesus it’s not about Him but about you, which is why He gives you His peace. Peace not as the world gives. He says in the Gospel reading: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” In the world you can have peace of mind. You can relax, put your feet up, and get a little relief now and then from the pressures of life. But you cannot have true peace, not eternal peace. When you face death you cannot have certainty that you have measured up to God’s perfect will. You cannot look into your heart and find there comfort that doesn’t end.

Only Christ Himself can give you that. And only He does. For Him, it’s not about Him, but about you. He came not to be served but to serve. He came not to reap the rewards of His brilliant creation but to give His life as a ransom for the world. He came not to live it up but to offer up His life for the sins of the world. He offers Himself to you today also. He gives His very Body that was delivered on the cross, for you to eat and receive. He gives His very Blood that was poured out on Calvary for you to drink and receive. He died once for all, He gives His body and blood to you often. Receive it often. You’re going to need it, because for Him, it’s all about you and what you need.

You will go from here and forget that at times. You will wonder about it at times. You might have doubts about it at times. People will ask you why you believe “all that stuff in the Bible” and you’ll find yourself wondering if you learned anything worthwhile in two years of Confirmation Class because it all has suddenly seemed to be wiped clear from your mind. Some of your teachers in school will offer up compelling evidence of why the account of Creation in the book of Genesis is just a story, a myth for people who don’t think for themselves and don’t rely on the hard evidence of science. In those times you might find yourself wondering if the Bible really is true. You might wonder if God really is who He says He is and if everything you learned in Confirmation Class is the truth.

What I want you to remember today and when you hear those things is that you have learned from Christ Himself. It is His Word which in His eyes is never about Himself but about you. Many people are trying to just get through each day with all their struggles and pressures and problems. But going from here you will know and have one thing that the world cannot offer you: Christ Himself. You will go from here having received Him into your very mouth and heart in His Holy Supper.

In a few moments you will come to the altar for the first time to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. As you come up to the altar you will walk right by the Baptismal font. As you come forward God will know who you are. That’s because He made you His at the Baptismal font. Remember who you are. You are Baptized. Know that you come forward as a child of God. You don’t approach God’s altar with your mental list of how well you obey your parents and what a good student you are in school. Jesus isn’t going to give you His body and blood because you have done really well over the last two years in Confirmation Class. You come forward simply as a sinner. But a sinner who has been Baptized.

You may not remember it anymore, but two years ago I told you and your parents that Confirmation is not the end but the beginning. You are embarking on a lifelong walk with Christ. The Gospel reading today is all about going, being on the way. Jesus says: “You heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” We know exactly where He went, He went to the cross. He suffered so that we may not suffer eternally. He walked the path to the cross so that we may walk with Him in our lives as we bear our crosses and are strengthened by Him through them.

He says: “And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” You know what took place at Calvary, and if you know that, you can also know what took place at the font when you were Baptized: you were united with Christ in His death and resurrection and were given new and eternal life. Since you know that Christ suffered and died and rose and ascended into heaven, and that He sent His Helper, the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, you know what happens here at the altar: you receive the very Body and Blood of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

But you will go from here. You’ll go home today. You’ll be back in school this week. Someday you may move away, going to college or getting a job somewhere. You may not always be here. But you’ll always be in the Holy Christian Church. You’ll always be part of the Body of Christ. Jesus finishes speaking to His disciples by saying “Rise, let us go from here.” In a little while, you will rise and go from there to this altar to receive Christ’s Body and Blood and be strengthened in your faith.

After having received it, you will go from there back out into the world. You will be tempted, you will falter, you will fail, you will sin, you will struggle. Jesus warns that “the ruler of this world is coming.” But Jesus also says that he, that is, Satan, has no claim on Him, that is, Jesus. Jesus reminds us that He does as the Father has commanded Him. He is always God but always humble. Always reaching out to us, serving us. That’s why you will go from here having been strengthened. You will go from here having been given Christ Himself, for you, for your forgiveness, for your life. You will live in Him. You will live out the life He has called you to live, obeying your parents, being the best student in school you can be, coming faithfully to the House of God for worship and Bible Study. Someday you may have children of your own and you will raise them in a Christian home. You will realize what a blessing it is to serve God by serving others in whatever job you end up doing. You are hearing all this ahead of time so that you may know that this is not what you will accomplish, but what your Lord has called you to. So that you may know that as you go from here you go with the blessing of the Lord upon you. You go as a Baptized child of God, one who is strengthened often in His Holy Supper. One who is sustained by God Himself who always looks at you and believes in His heart of hearts that it’s always about you, which is why He has prepared a place for you in heaven forever. Go in this knowledge, hope, comfort, and grace. Amen.


No comments: