Greetings in Christ,
This weekend at Immanuel, it’s not only the 5th Sunday of Easter. This weekend is also Confirmation.
After at least 2 years of catechetical instruction, the catechumens (sounds like “kata-q-mens”) confess – before the congregation – the faith that they received in baptism and of which they have been taught since that time. These students then receive a blessing and are admitted to the Lord’s Table for Holy Communion.
In Matthew 28 we read this…
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We make disciples through baptism, and we teach those disciples all that Christ has commanded. That is what we do. That is what the church has always done. This happens through the liturgy as we gather together to worship, but it also happens on a daily basis with prayer and study of Scripture. First and foremost this formation takes place on a daily basis in the home. Ideally, parents teach and model the faith to their children through church and Bible study attendance and Christian living. Even the Catechism was created as an at home devotional resource to shape Christians in the faith.
The other part of confirmation at Immanuel is connected to the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Cor 11 we read some specific commands regarding the reception of the Lord’s Supper. While confirmation was not historically tied to the Lord’s Supper (it is actually tied to baptism…confirming what happened in baptism), at Immanuel the students receive specific instruction in the teachings of the Christian faith – including instruction about the Lord’s Supper – and then they are admitted to the Lord’s Table.
This weekend it’s a glorious time to receive new Christians to the Lord’s Table. However, this isn’t the finish line or graduation. This is a stepping stone in the Christian faith. These students are not more Christian than they were before confirmation, but they now approach the table acknowledging the faith that they were given by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and they receive the continued blessing of the Lord’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. In baptism, they were washed clean, and in this Holy Supper, they can taste that forgiveness every week.
This weekend, Pastor Troup is preaching on the Epistle lesson for the 5th Sunday of Easter. It’s so appropriate. 1 John 4 reminds us that we are to “love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” He goes on to say, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” We see true love as we look to the cross where our forgiveness is won. We then go forward mercifully, loving our neighbors and forgiving as we are forgiven.
Isn’t that such a great verse for Confirmation weekend? The love of God is not in that these students have gone through between 2 and 4 years of midweek classes, but in that God loved all of us and sent His Son to make us His own! They now continue on the path of learning and growing in their understanding of God’s Word for the rest of their lives along with all Christians.
Remember to pray for these students. Remember to pray for every Christian that lives in this world of temptation and sin, for that matter. When you notice someone isn’t at church, give him a call. When you notice someone hasn’t been to Bible study check in to see how she’s doing. Encourage others in their faith and share the love of Christ as it has been shared with you.
Blessings on your weekend. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Take a few minutes to check out the Service Folder for this weekend so you can read the readings, look at the prayers, and reflect on some of the hymnody that we’ll be experiencing together this weekend.
You can dig deeper into the Liturgy with this segment from Issues, Etc.
Here’s the Lectionary Summary for the weekend.
Jesus Christ Is the True Vine Who Bears Much Fruit in Us
“God is love,” and He has manifested Himself to us by sending “his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9, 16). By the ministry of the Gospel, “he has given us of his Spirit,” so that we also believe and confess “that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” In this way, we “abide in him and he in us,” and we “love one another” (1 John 4:2, 7, 13). Such divine love is exemplified in Philip’s preaching of “the good news about Jesus” to the Ethiopian eunuch. And when “they came to some water,” the eunuch was baptized into the very Gospel that Philip had preached (Acts 8:35–38). That Ethiopian was thereby grafted into “the true vine,” Jesus Christ (John 15:1), just as we are. Already we are clean because of the Word that Christ has spoken to us and by the washing of water with His Word. We now abide in Him by faith in His forgiveness. As He abides in us, both body and soul, with His own body and His blood, He “bears much fruit” in us (John 15:3–5).
Have to miss service last week? Catch up now!