More / Book of the Month / Who then is this / Mark 4:35-41; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday, June 20th 2021 / 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Who then is this / Mark 4:35-41; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday, June 20th 2021 / 4th Sunday after Pentecost




Who then is this / Mark 4:35-41; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday, June 20th 2021 / 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon – June 20th, 2021 – CONFIRMATION Sunday
Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina, SK
Text: Mark 4:35-41; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Theme: “Who then is this”
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Intr - When we talk about the episode of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4, many things might call our attention.[1] What I would highlight today is a baffling question, at least to me, posed by the 12 among themselves: “Who then is this?”

        Think with me: they were with Jesus. They saw miracles. They had been learning directly from His mouth. They were in contact with Him in a daily basis. Why would they come up with this kind of doubt? “Who then is this?”

        Confirmation Day is a time of celebration. Today, another 2 Confirmands are coming forth to the altar of the Lord to confirm their Baptismal faith. They are saying with their own mouths what they believe from the Scriptures, which we have been studying in an abridged way over the last 2 years, using the Bible and the Catechism. They have been studying who is “this”: Jesus Christ, our Saviour.


1 – In the midst of storms

        Now what I would remind you, dear Confirmands, dear family and dear congregation, is that you shouldn’t be dismayed if at any point today, tomorrow of down the road in their life, in face of storms and winds they would ask “Who then is this?” Even the disciples asked this question, why wouldn’t them? Why wouldn’t you? Especially if the opposite happens, that is, you are facing a storm in your life and you think you just can’t wake Jesus up. He is sleeping profoundly somewhere, and not paying attention to your need and despair. “He doesn’t care”.

        We realize this when we remember that Confirmation is not a graduation ceremony which makes them from today on know-alls about Jesus and the Bible. As it wasn’t for all of us; as it wasn’t even for us Pastors, as we finished our Degrees. We graduated from the Seminary from a human perspective, but we continue on in our daily life and struggles, learning and growing, and we may also sometimes ask when difficult days come: “who then is this?” We know that sin remains in us. We are weak people who every so often may be trapped by our flesh or the devil into thinking that we don’t really know Jesus. “Who then is this?”

        For this reason, Confirmation cannot be the end of the learning road. We need to be fed and grow. We need Jesus, his Peace and stillness in our hearts; at every opportunity we can find. Above all, the main thing about today is the focus on believing, trusting, being with the Lord. As we confirm our Baptismal we declare that we desire to remain in Him.

2 – Learning “this” from the Word

We need “this” all the time: we need Jesus. We need to be strengthened, learn and grow more and more about “this”, as we do in Confirmation classes. As we do on a daily basis from the Word. Here are some nuggets of what is that Confirmation teaches and reminds us about who “This” is, in our Christian walk.

The 10 commandments: they are good and useful. But they are a mirror. What they mostly show is that we are sinners. That’s why we go over with the Confirmands the Creed, which shows us who God is, and what He did and does for us.

        That’s why we converse with them about Confession of Sins and the Lord’s Prayer. We learn to repent, to confess, to trust, and to know we have a loving Father who cares about us.

        We learn about Baptism, and how the Father made us his children.

        We learn about Holy Communion, and how we can see and receive this same Jesus that was on the boat with the disciples inside ourselves, so that our journey through storms and winds may be weathered in Him and with Him

        In the Epistle for today Paul affirms, “today is the favourable day.” Confirmation is a favourable day. Tomorrow will be a favourable day. Every day is favourable to remember and renew our trust that God has come to us, reconciling us with Him. We have peace and strength to face the storms. And Paul gives us a long list of some of what he endured for the sake of the Gospel. Every day is the day to be in Christ and live with Him and in Him. It is a continued education program, not a 4 year or less degree course. Because from the Word we learn continually “who then is this”: It’s Christ, our brother, our Saviour, our everything.

3 – Learning from the past

This” – Christ - is The One at the Center of our teaching, and from a long time. And we will carry on teaching it the same way, from the same source, the Word, to the same world. For that reason I bring now some reminders from the past that still serve us today, enlightening us on “who then is this”:

        Pastor Terry, on confirmation Sunday 2013, asked:

“Let me ask you. Do you remember the day of your confirmation? Do you remember what happened that day? Do you remember the significance of the day? At the time of our confirmation, we confirm the faith that was sparked in us at our baptism. As you know, confirmation is preceded by a lengthy period of instruction. And confirmation isn’t the end of our faith journey. It’s simply a transition from one part of the journey to the next.”[2]

        One year later, talking about the stones that might be picked up and thrown at us in life, Pastor Ted encouraged us:

“Until that day you have Jesus in your baptism and you have Jesus in the meal He has given you to eat this day, in the bread and in the wine, in His body and in His blood, He picks you up, and picks you up, and picks you up - when the stones knock you down into the dust. You do not pick yourself up. He picks you up (…)Don't live a life of resistance, be picked up.”[3]

        On Pentecost and Confirmation Sunday 2015, Pastor Terry reminded us:

“The Holy Spirit is the Christian's helper, guide and teacher. Without the Holy Spirit, we could have no Christian teaching. And without the Spirit, the things of God would remain a closed book to us. The Holy Spirit is the scarlet thread linking the Day of Pentecost to the Rite of Confirmation. Confirmation, learning about the fundamental teachings of the church, would be impossible without the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul said that, apart from God and the Spirit's work, people cannot understand the things of God. As a matter of fact, these things are FOOLISHNESS to them. The Spirit enlightens us. The Holy Spirit makes the Bible come alive.”[4]

            Confirmation Sunday 2016 was the occasion for Pastor Giese to tell us:

“So today and all through your life remember to listen as the Holy Spirit calls, "listen, God is calling, through the Word inviting, offering forgiveness, comfort and joy." (…) So if our baptism and our confirmation of baptism was recent or even if to was many years ago it doesn't matter, Jesus' words are for us all. And because of these words we can trust that we are not alone, we have been baptized into His death and resurrection and we have been given the gift of faith in Christ Jesus. And whether that is a small burning ember of faith or a white hot fire of faith - it is a gift of the Holy Spirit and it is what you need when you need.”[5]

        And on Confirmation Sunday 2018 Pastor Albrecht addressed the Confirmands and the Congregation:

“There will be times in your life though in which you will be tempted to think differently from this. Something like:  “Why would you listen to God through the Church? It is sort of an outdated institution. It is for old folks who like to keep tradition. Today things are different. You gotta listen to such and such folks, they have got it together”.

        Please, bear in mind:

_Why would you exchange the words of the Scripture for the words of others? If, like some say, the Bible is just the word of men, why would we exchange it for words of other imperfect people, since the Bible has been around quite a while proving itself to be true and useful time and time again?

_Another aspect: We are in sort of a “feel it” generation, so if you come to church, or if you try to feel God with you during your week and you just can’t feel anything special, don’t lose heart. Just because you are not feeling it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening; doesn’t mean that it is not true.[6]

_And, remember that God’s Word doesn’t only warn you or exhort you, which may sound like God is always mad or angry. The Word of God is profitable for teaching, for correction, warning, testifying. The word encourages you, strengthens you; keeps your faith alive. Above all, the Word of God, through Christ, saves you and takes you home, to live with Him eternally.”

Cc - One night when my youngest son was already in bed a thunderstorm broke out. After a very loud thunder, I heard him crying, and I went to his room to be with him and bring him comfort. He asked me then to stay with him until he would fall back asleep.
It was only when I was back in my bedroom I realized something: he didn’t ask me to make the thunderstorm go. He only asked me to stay with him.

Dear Confirmands, dear congregation. “Who then is this?” It is Jesus, your Lord and Saviour, Master and Friend. At every turn of your life’s road, at every wind and storm that you think is insurmountable, remember he is not sleeping. Call upon His name, have your faith in Him. He cares. He calms. He conducts. For this is Who He is.          

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[1] People following Jesus in their boats. They really wanted to be with him. Mostly because of the material gifts, but certainly some because of their faith. The big storm. Didn’t the disciples, experienced fishermen, not know that perhaps it was a little dangerous to try that crossing Jesus can sleep in tranquility even when the boat is making water. The despair of the disciples. Jesus calming the wind and the sea. Jesus rebuking the disciples questioning their faith
[2] Terry Defoe. Sermon - May 19th, 2013 - That's the Spirit.  https://lutheran-church-regina.com/blogs/post/sermon
[3] Ted Giese. Stable & Steadfast: A Confirmation Sermon.
 https://lutheran-church-regina.com/blogs/post/stable-steadfast-a-confirmation-sermon-1-peter-313-22-pastor-ted-giese
[4] Terry Defoe. Sermon, Pentecost & Confirmation Sunday.
  https://lutheran-church-regina.com/blogs/post/sermon-pentecost-confirmation-sunday-may-24th-2015-pastor-terry-defoe-acts-2
[5] Ted Giese. Called & Gathered by The Holy Spirit. https://lutheran-church-regina.com/blogs/post/sermon-pr-ted-giese-pentecost-sunday-may-15th-2016-john-1423-31-called-gathered-by-the-holy-spirit
[6] Think of the food you eat everyday: even though you don’t know how it nourishes your body, even though you don’t feel a super duper something every time you sit down to eat, it doesn’t mean you are not being nourished. The Word of God does the same, and even more. As long as you are near to it, hearing it, receiving it, you are being nourished by His love to stand still and strong in face of the challenges life will present you with

 

 


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