Sermon for the Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

Text: Psalm 37:5
Give yourself to the Lord; trust in him, and he will help you.

Give yourself to the Lord

Friends, especially the confirmees,

Today you are doing something that will be an important part of your ongoing relationship with God and his church. But before we get to that point I want to ask two questions. The first one relates to what has happened in the past.

How did you get here? Iím not talking about the kind of car that drove you here, or what kind of things you did this morning to get ready for this service. Iím not talking about your birth into your family either Ė you know the birds and the bees kind of stuff.

Some time in the past, water was splashed over you and the words "I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" were spoken. Most likely you have no recollection of that day because you were very young. Nevertheless some very powerful things happened on the day of your baptism.

God made a commitment to love you,
forgive you,
to walk with you wherever lifeís journey might take you,
to give you his Holy Spirit to guide you in your Christian living,
to give you eternal life.
Godís commitment to you is absolute and total. Unlike the commitments we make, Godís commitment to you is everlasting and he will not break his promise. He has kept his promise to you, even though there are times when you have disregarded God, ignored his love for you, and rebelled against those who love you.

If you have any doubts about Godís commitment to you then look at the cross above the altar. There on the cross the suffering, dying Jesus gave his own life because of his commitment to all of us. He endured the cross because he loves and wants none of us to end up in hell, but to enjoy eternal life.

Another answer to the question, "How did you get here?" highlights the fact that God has put in your life people who have helped you get to this day. People like mums and dads, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, godparents, pastors, mentors and many others have helped you grow in your faith and trust in Jesus. All of us at some time have had people in our lives who have helped us to grow in our faith and been there for us on our journey through life. Letís show our appreciation with applause.

Having looked at Godís commitment to you and the people God has placed in your life to help get here today I come to my second question, "What are you here for?"

You have come to the point in your life when you are ready now to acknowledge the commitment God has had for you in your life so far starting with your baptism. Now you want to publicly state your faith and your desire to continue as a disciple of Jesus. When you stand in front of the congregation in a moment you will state that God is an important part of your life and that you will rely and trust in him as you journey through life. Just as God is totally committed to each of you today you have the opportunity to be totally focused on Jesus, to "commit your way to the Lord" as the book of Psalms says.

So why are you here?

You are here to tell us all that you are glad to be a part of the Christian Church which at this time happens to be St Paulís Lutheran Church. You are happy to state that God is your God Ė the one who has made you, saved you and given you faith and the willingness to be obedient to what God wants you to do.

You are here today to say specifically that worshipping God is a priority. It is at worship that you receive God's blessing, hear what he has to say to you while on the road that is sometimes smooth other times bumpy. You will hear that your sins are forgiven and receive Holy Communion to assure of God's continuing commitment to you. Worship is being served by God and in turn to serve others with prayer and acts of love.

Why are you here? You are here to express your commitment to keep on learning about what God has done for you and what his will is for you. Hear his Word spoken to you, read it, study it. Confirmation is not an end of learning.

You are here because you want to serve. Serving isn't popular, we would much rather have people serve us. But Jesus calls you to be a servant. Listen to what Jesus says about serving and follow his example. Being a Christian isnít so much about what you want and what you like. Rather it is about what the needs of others are and appreciating what it is that they like.

Finally, you are here to say to us all that you want to witness to others what it means to be a person who loves Jesus. What you say and do and how you interact with others is a witness to what God has done in your life. Even when you sin and you turn again and again to God in repentance, this is a witness of his power to forgive and raise your spirits.
When your mouth gets you into trouble and you say things you shouldnít to someone else, when you apologise and make friends again, that is a powerful witness to God's love in your life. Nothing is more awesome than to share God's love and peace with others.

All in all you are saying today that God's grace has brought you into his family and given you a Saviour and given you a special place in the heart of God, you are ready to obediently follow Jesus and let him be the guiding force in your life.

You know thatís where the greatest challenge is for all who claim to be followers of Jesus. Itís this whole thing about obedience. This is one of those words that isnít very popular these days but it is basic to our understanding of how our Christian faith has an impact on everything we do. Obedience is one of those things that we spend a lifetime trying to do, that is, trying to do what God wants us to do.
"Follow me", Jesus says.
"Trust me".
"Love one another".
"Be understanding, kind and helpful to one another".
"Serve one another".
"Dedicate time each day to reading the Bible and praying".
Jesus tells us to do all these things but often these are the hardest things that we have to do in life. We just find it difficult to obey. Adam and Eve had that problem and itís no different today.

Like all of us you will make some terrible mistakes in regard to the promises you make today. Being loyal to Jesus is no easy thing.
You will be tempted to abandon Jesus.
You will believe that worship is a waste of time.
Other things will fascinate you and pull you away from Jesus.
You will compromise what you know is God's ways with the ways of the world.

Whatever the future will bring one thing we can be sure of Ė God's love for you will never stop. Like a true father he will always be there to help you and forgive you. God will repeat what he promised at your baptism over and over, "Don't be afraid! I am your God. I am with you wherever you go".

Keep looking, keep listening, keep trusting and rejoicing in the God who loves you and journeys with you. "Give yourself to the Lord; trust in him, and he will help you".

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
29th October, 2006

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