Sermon Text: John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
I need to warn you all as I begin this sermon that I will be using some language in this sermon that might make you feel uncomfortable. It is language that I use at home in front of my children who are likely to repeat everything you say, so it’s not that bad, but here, from the pulpit, in church, it might be controversial. And I’m not really one to sugarcoat things so here they are those words that may make you squirm: new; different. Is everyone ok? I hope so, because I am going to use those words several times today because…
TODAY BEGINS SOMETHING NEW
(I. Today marked something new for the apostles.)
(II. Today marks something new for our confirmands.)
(III. Today marks something new for us.)
Jesus is maybe a little more subtle than I am as He uses these words without actually using them. He contrasts the before to the now: “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me… I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will…”
There is those things that were then, before, but now, is something new. Today marks something new for the Church, certainly for the apostles. Now, today, on Pentecost, the Spirit of truth comes and descends upon them as tongues of fire. Now, in these last days, the prophecy of the prophet Joel has come, the prophecy of Jesus that the Spirit would come, that they would receive power from on high, has been fulfilled. Now they are to start something new and do something different and turn from locking themselves in a room in Jerusalem in fear and go out into the world proclaiming Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead.
And as today marks something new and different for the apostles, today marks something new and different for you, Matthew, for you, Owen, and for you, Luke. For three years, now, we have gathered together in a room and talked about and studied the things of God. For three years, you have been under my wing being taught the very basics of the Christian faith. You have served this church and followed in the footsteps of those greater than you. In similar fashion, for three years, the apostles followed Jesus: from His Baptism to His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension. For three years the apostles were under the wing of the Good Teacher, talking about and studying with Him the things of God. For three years they followed in the footsteps of the One who is greater than they. But today marks something new.
Today, the apostles are released, sent out into the world to proclaim the Gospel. They are no longer merely students, but teachers and proclaimers of the faith and of salvation. Although, their Teacher was much greater than yours and even He spent every hour of every day of those three years teaching them, not just one hour on one day of the week. You are not quite there yet, you are not done learning yet. But now it is a different learning.
Now, today, you are no longer merely little children of the congregation (sorry moms and dads), but you are full communicant members. Today, for the first time, you receive something new and different. Not a new or different Spirit, or forgiveness, or faith, but a new means of grace. Today, the new and different thing is the very body and blood of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. The same Spirit, the same forgiveness, the same Savior, but in a new and different way.
Today, in the eyes of God, you have every right, benefit, and gift that He gives to His Church. You have received Baptism, you have received the Word and absolution, and now, today, you receive the Sacrament of the Altar. Every means of grace God has and gives to His Church is yours. Which means every responsibility which God gives to His Church is yours.
Which brings us to what is new and different, not just for the apostles and for these three young men, but for all of us. The three of you along with all of us have every responsibility and grace which God gives to His Church. And for the last six months, during the Season of Our Lord, from Advent, through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter, we have heard and studied the person and work of Christ, the basics of the Christian faith.
Now, today, is something new and different. Now, we enter into the Season of the Church where we focus not just on God and Christ for me, but God and Christ for our neighbor. We turn from locking ourselves in a room or a building in fear, and walk out to all nations prophesying and proclaiming the mighty works of God for them.
So now, today, we are being sent out, with these confirmands to be fully-grown adults. To fulfill the responsibilities we have as adults to God and to our neighbor. Not that we, or you, are done learning, but that even more learning must be done to equip ourselves beyond the basics, beyond “just Christian,” and to defend the full richness of the faith.
Now, you, each one of you, do something new and different. Equip yourself with the Spirit, the truth of God’s word. This is my challenge to you, to us as Hope Lutheran Church: in the next six months, during this Season of the Church, between now and Thanksgiving, or really Advent, how many of us, and of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are not here today, and of our friends and neighbors who have never entered this church, can we get here for worship even if it is just one time? And how many of us, how many different individual members can we get in Bible Class, even if it is just once? Not because it is Christmas or Easter or some other high holy day of the Church Year, but because it is Sunday (or Wednesday). 100, 50, 25 percent of our members?
And while we are doing new and different things, we are starting another new and different thing, and yes, I know this is a lot in one Sunday, but this is a small one and wasn’t my idea but a members. Every Sunday, we will conclude the distribution of the Lord’s Supper by singing hymn 805, the doxology: a simple, memorable hymn of praise.
We will praise God for His gifts. Praise Him for His gift of the Lord’s Supper, that every time we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Praise God that He has died and risen for the forgiveness of our sins, my sins, your sins. Praise God that He has ascended and sent His Spirit to create and sustain faith “that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Praise God that He has given us His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation, and entrusted them to us, who have been filled with the Holy Spirit in our Baptism just as the apostles were on Pentecost, to read, mark, learn, inwardly digest, and proclaim in all boldness and confidence the Gospel which is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.