Worship May 16, 2021
We read in scripture that Jesus stood up, unrolled the scroll just as had Ezra, the priest-scribe, and announced to the assembly as he does for us today that God is in our midst this day. Join me in opening our time of worship in prayer.
We gather together with praise and thanksgiving for who You are, and for all that You have done for us.
You know us better than we know ourselves—all our thoughts and actions—and yet You love us.
No matter where we go or what we do, Your love encircles us—ahead and behind—gently leading and guiding and blessing.
We praise You for Your love and Your faithful presence in our lives.
May Your Spirit move in our hearts and minds as we worship together—examine our attitudes and actions,
lay bare the things we need to confess, challenge us with Your Word, and guide us on to paths that lead to life.
For we are Your people, called by Your name. Amen.
Hymn I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry
Scripture Luke 4: 14-19
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Congratulations! This is a great day for Sam, Lindsay and Nora, our confirmands who completed an eight-month long weekly class. I am very proud of each of you, and I love you. Thanks to the parents, grandparents and siblings for your encouragement and support. And thank you to the congregation for your prayers.
Let me begin my message with a question: What is confirmation to you? I can tell you that every confirmand I have taught has wondered about that same question. How would you explain to a friend if they asked you ‘what confirmation is all about’? A typical answer would be something like this: you complete a one or a two-year long class and you get confirmed on a Sunday (typically in May but in some churches in October) and you become a full member of the Church of God.
I have not found a student yet that knows what confirmation is all about when they start. Most kids, if they are honest, tell me they are there because their parents said they must attend.
I think back to my own confirmation – a two-year long class taught by Reverend Palm, and 15 of us were on this journey together. I remember two and only two things from those two years,
- During the Saturday rehearsal the morning before the service as we all sat in the first two pews while the Pastor was giving directions classmate named Rick raised his hand and when called on said “do you know that your zipper is down” and it was.
- I remember is the dress I wore under my white robe. The dress was a yellow long waisted cute little thing – and I mean little I remember my mom having a fit because it was so short – in fact, my fingers hung down farther than the dress did – yikes.
Unfortunately, I do not remember anything else about that whole two-year experience. Each lesson I planned for Sam, Lindsay and Nora caused me to question if they would remember anything I was teaching. Even if they do not remember I sincerely hope I was able to lay a foundation for their future faith journey.
Continuing with a focus of teaching I looked up the word ‘to confirm’ in the dictionary. This is what I have found: the word “confirm” is originated from a Latin word “confirmare” which has two parts: con—(together) and firmare—(to strengthen). Therefore, ‘to confirm’ means ‘to strengthen together.’ So, in the context of Church, ‘to confirm’ means ‘to strengthen together someone’s faith and practice.’
At the first confirmation class, I explained to the youth that confirmation is a life-long journey, not an eight-month long class. By taking the class, I said, they are taking their first step in their faith journey.
Sadly, however, that is not the reality in our society. Many confirmands, once confirmed, drop out of the Church and often are not seen again until they are married and have their own kids. This is so common that there is even a joke about it. It goes something like “if the kids in church are too noisy just confirm them – then they will stop coming. ugh
It is good to be reminded that Confirmation is not the end, but the beginning of a faith journey.
Remember the ‘together’ part? In this faith journey, no one travels alone. We travel together. In fact, God assigns to us four travel partners: our family, our friends, the Church, and God Himself.
Families sometimes can discourage us. Friends at other times can abandon us. Even the Church of God can disappoint us as well. However, we do have one partner, eternal and divine, who never abandons or forsakes us. This is God. His name is Immanuel. God is with us forever, our faithful partner in our journey to Heaven.
In fact, the Scripture says that God is fully committed to this journey of confirmation and sanctification to the end (through and through). He will carry out His work in us until we are transformed into Christ’s image (Ephesians 5:1).
We can trust in God. We can rely on God’s commitment to make us whole and blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ—this phrase deserves our attention.
You see, our final destination in our journey is eternity. Eternity is not a physical place like the USA or Australia. Eternity is a place where God is. We are going to this place where God is and we will be with Him in His presence for ever and a day.
To be with God, we must know who God is and His attributes.
God is holy and righteous.
Nothing impure/unclean is permitted in His presence. That means, to be in the presence of God who is holy, we too need to be holy like God is. That is why God expects us to be perfect, pure, and blameless (1 Corinthians 1:8) not just in human standards but in His own.
Of course, all of us would fail that holiness test before God due to our sin. That is precisely why God sent His Son Jesus Christ so that He would take care of our sin and its consequences (the Bible calls it ‘the wages of sin’).
So, Jesus took our sins to the cross and paid the wages of our sins once and for all at the cross through His own death. Now, we are pardoned of our sins. Because of Christ’s merit, not our own, and because of our faith in Him, we can stand in front of God with Christ’s righteousness that was assigned to us.
During our faith journey God calls us to be His representatives to the world. The Scripture puts it in the following four ways: we are the salt, the light, the letter, and the aroma.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.” Imagine a food that is without salt. A right amount of salt brings out the best taste of the food. So do you. Be the salt where you belong (family, school, work, community, and church) and bring glory to God.
Jesus also says in Matthew 5:14 that we are the light of the world. Imagine the world without God’s children—how dark it would be. We each can brighten our bubble of space with the light of God.
Thirdly, each one of us is a letter of Christ to the world. People read us as if they read a letter. When the people in the world read our lives, what would they think of us, of the Church, and of God? Would they think of Christ the author and give glory to God or would they be disappointed and stay away from the Church altogether?
Lastly, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians that we are a fragrance of Christ to God. I am sure we are a fragrance of Christ to the world as well. Let’s be an aroma of Christ, not a stench, to whomever we meet and interact.
God never leaves us unprepared for this faith journey we are on. Rather, He fully equips us with essential tools (for lack of better terms)—things that we must have for the journey. There are two: God’s own Word and God’s own Spirit. The Bible and the Holy Spirit.
The confirmands were given a bible at the start of this journey. We used these bibles to study, learn, and grow in our faith. In early times and over many generations, the sixty-six books were thoughtfully used by faithful people. In the process their merits were weighed, and the community of believers finally gave them special authority. Tested by faith, proven by experience, these books have become sacred; they have become our rule for faith and practice. The study of scripture is an essential tool for a strong faith journey.
God also provides us with His Holy Spirit as our constant companion. God’s own Spirit is the Helper and the Counselor given to all of us. The Holy Spirit comforts us in times of sorrow. The Holy Spirit guides us in times of confusion, The Holy Spirit leads us into the right directions. The Holy Spirit even intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray for ourselves.
So, Sam, Lindsay, and Nora, you are taking your first step in this faith journey. Your family, your friends, your Church, and God are journeying with you. You do have the right tools—you have your Bible, and you have the Holy Spirit—that will guide you into the right paths and help you to stay on the course. May God help you to complete this journey and stand blameless in His presence on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Let us pray.
Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Lord of patience and persistence, the scriptures from Isaiah’s scroll were not new to the people gathered on that day for worship. Many times before they had heard the words and in their hearts hoped that the mandate could become a reality in their lives. But none moved forward. Then Jesus proclaimed that God had called him to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to let the oppressed go free; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. How startled they were! At last, with confidence, Jesus forced the issues and the mandate. God has fulfilled God’s promise in the person of Jesus. Now something was going to be done. No more lip service; no more fear; no more waiting. Now the time had come. It is no different today than it was 2000 years ago. We still want someone else to pick up the reins; to lead the charge, to do the work. But God, through the witness of Jesus, is calling each of us to the task. The promise of hope and justice is given to this world. And we have become bearers of that promise. Now is the time for work and witness. Now is the time for hope and peace. Now is the time for each one of us to do our part in establishing God’s kingdom. Lord, get us ready for service. Pick us up; dust us off, and put us on the pathways of justice.
And together in the name of Christ, we pray.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
Confirmation of Faith
Praise Team This I Believe Arranged by Russell Mauldin
We sing our praises to the Lord, for God is good and worthy! We give our whole selves — our talents and material possessions — to the Church with the expectation that they be used to further God’s dream for our world. Please commit yourself and give as you’re able.
Prayer of Dedication
God of all, we praise you knowing that all things which come to us are yours. We are thankful that you provide for us financially, you provide for us spiritually, and you provide for us in so many other ways. We cannot begin to list the ways you bless us. We know you do not need anything material from us, but you desire our reverence. And so, blessed Lord, we give you our tithes and offerings now, but more importantly, we give you our love and our reverence. Amen.
Hymn Victory in Jesus
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. ”
Congratulations to Sam Zins, Lindsay Sigstad, and Nora Houglum who today confirmed the vows taken for them at their baptism. Congratulations Sam, Lindsay, and Nora on your Confirmation.