Saying “Yes” on Confirmation Sunday

”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. –John 15:1-8

Easter5 / John Stiles / Holy Cross Lutheran Church / 5-6-12 / Confirmation Sunday

Children’s Time: bring a stick from home. See this stick and this old branch I cut down last March? They are off an apple tree in my back yard. Do you think they’ll grow if I put them in the ground? No, they need to be connected to the tree, right? If not, it’s just an old stick-in-the-mud.  There’s no root here. Only then can we pick apples off them at the end of summer. Jesus said something similar to his disciples: “I am the vine you are the branches.” He wanted his followers to imagine themselves as connected to him – the one, true root of the church. If we stay connected to Jesus we’ll be all right. We’ll bear the fruits of the spirit: peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness – all the good things that life has to offer us. Do you want to be that kind of branch or an old stick in the mud? Let’s pray and ask God to keep us close to Jesus – so we, too, can bear much fruit!

Intro: Grace to you and peace, from God our father, and from our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

I want to thank these young people for sharing their faith with us this morning. It’s a big step in one’s faith journey to say “yes” to the promises your parents made for you when you were baptized. To say “yes” to God. “Yes” to the forgiveness of sins. “Yes” to the church, this worldwide family of believers.

We rejoice with you and we’re proud of you in this moment.

“Getting confirmed” isn’t something we do for you, though. And it’s not even something you do for yourself. It’s God’s blessing upon you. Much like those words spoken at Jesus’ baptism: “You are my son/my daughter, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” If only we could remember those words each day – of how God says to you: “My son… my daughter… I love you and I’m proud of you. Well-pleased.”

Let this day be a day of remembrance in your baptism – that moment God reached out to you through the water and the Word and called you “mine.” “This one’s mine.” “No one can lay a hand on this child of mine,” says the Lord. “She is mine for all eternity.” “He is mine to the end of time.” What a blessing to know and trust that you are held in the palm of God’s hands!  Not only does God say “yes” to you – you say “yes” to God.  The stoles are a sign of that commitment – like a yoke that is put over an ox, we are yoked to Christ in the faith, recalling his words: “Take my yoke up you and learn from me.”

So, let this be a day that changes how you will live your life – knowing how precious you are in God’s sight. Live what you believe. Live like there’s no tomorrow. Love as you have been loved by this maker of heaven and earth. Keep your heart wide open to those around you in need. Watch for the eyes of Jesus in the poor and the hungry. Don’t be afraid of the haters – all those who would threaten this freedom you have living in the power of the Holy Spirit. For the Lord shelters you under her feathered wing. Your foot will not be moved, as you build your house on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ.

The beauty of this faith is that you get to all say what has meant the most to you – to choose your favorite Bible verse – words to live by – words of hope and healing. And we are blessed in the hearing! I thank you for your faith statements (straight from the heart) about how God is calling you at this point in your life. May your testimony move us to tell our own God stories today.  Because we never know when it will be our time to share our faith.  This is merely a rehearsal for the day to come when you will be asked to bear witness to the hope that is within you.

In today’s Gospel Jesus said: “Abide in me, I am the vine, you are the branches… Apart from me you can do nothing.” May we all find our voice this day and tell others how we are branching out in our faith, rooted in God. Let us pray:

O God, we give you thanks for these young people and their faith statements. Make us certain that you are them in our faith journey, as well. Give us all we need to thrive and grow, rooted in you. Amen.

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