Confirmation of Aaron Ollrich and Anthony DeLorme
June 4, 2006
Let us pray:
Holy Spirit, grant us grace that we, our Lord and Savior,
The Angel of Death passed over
the homes of the Israelites because the blood of the Passover Lamb was
painted on the doorposts. Fifty
days later God gave the law through Moses.
Jesus, our Passover, shed His blood on the cross for us so that
death would pass over us. Fifty
days later God gave the gospel through the apostles.
Pentecost means fifty days.
Today we celebrate Pentecost as two young men of our parish
confirm publicly the faith into which God baptized them.
Pentecost is a good time for a
confirmation. Neither the
celebration of this festival nor the practice of confirmation is
commanded in the Scriptures. God
required the church of the Old Testament to observe certain religious
festivals. He has given no
such requirements to the church of the New Testament.
And while confirmation is an old church custom, it is not a
sacrament, was not commanded by Jesus, and is not necessary.
Why then do we celebrate Pentecost?
And why do we confirm Christians?
We do both for the same reason.
We believe that we should confess clearly the saving work of the
The Holy Spirit is given in
baptism. St. Paul refers to
baptism as the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Our Lord Jesus says the birth from above by which we enter into
the kingdom of God is of water and the Spirit.
When we publicly confirm our baptism, we publicly confess that
the Holy Spirit is the Lord the giver of life.
As we confess in the Catechism:
believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus
Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the
Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the
true faith; just as He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the
whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the
one true faith.
It is only after the Holy Spirit
has called us to faith, enlightened us with His gifts, and sanctified us
in the true faith that we can confess this faith.
And we do. We
confess the faith into which God baptized us.
Confirmation is simply a formal way of doing what God calls us to
do every single day of our lives. Faith
alone makes us Christians. Only
God can see faith. Confession
alone is what marks us as Christians.
Others can know what we confess.
They can know that we confess it.
Consider what happened on Pentecost.
Peter preached. The
church was born from above. Thousands
were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit. Christians confessed. And
then the whole world was turned upside down.
The disciples that earlier cowered in fear behind locked doors
were filled with the Holy Spirit. They
confessed. The Holy
Christian Church was born.
The Holy Spirit isnít just a
force or a power. He is
God. He proceeds from the
Father and the Son. He is the Creator. Where
there is unbelief He creates faith.
He changes the way we think and feel and act.
He changes our stony and unresponsive hearts into believing,
trusting, and loving hearts. He
takes away our fear of death and replaces it with a joy that remains
even when we face the necessary tragedies of life.
He gives us peace.
Jesus promised that He would. He said, ďPeace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.Ē Jesus
doesnít give and then take away.
ďPeace I leave with you,Ē He says.
He ascends into heaven, but He is not absent.
He is present. He
sends the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit brings peace.
Where Jesus is, there is the Holy Spirit and there is the peace
that belongs to Jesus. Jesus
said, ďMy peace I give to you.Ē
It is His peace because He has established it.
ďNot as the world gives do I give to you.Ē
So whatís the difference?
What is the difference between the peace that Jesus gives and the
peace that the world gives?
The peace of the world is only
outward and temporary. The
world makes peace by threatening those who would break it.
A man wants to start a fistfight and he sees a policeman so he
contains himself. Still, he
hates the fellow he wanted to hit.
But heís scared of the consequences if he acts on his hatred.
Thieves, murderers, adulterers, and liars avoid theft, murder,
adultery, and lies not because they arenít thieves, murderers,
adulterers, and liars, but because they donít want to suffer the
penalties that thieves, murderers, adulterers, and liars suffer.
In other words, they do what is right because they donít want
to suffer from doing what is wrong.
But thatís not really doing right.
Itís just going through the motions.
So the world makes peace and keeps peace by laws, threats, guns,
armies, policemen, courts, judges, and prisons.
How does Jesus make peace and
keep the peace? He makes no
threats. He punishes no
one. In fact, He does the
very opposite. He bears our
punishment. He faces the
threats of the law that were directed against us.
He takes the place of all the thieves, murderers, adulterers, and
liars. He bears their sins. He
suffers Godís anger against them.
In so doing, He takes Godís anger away.
He makes peace between God and sinners by taking away all the sin
of all the sinners. This is
a permanent peace, and it is real.
It isnít held in place by laws that can be broken or treaties
that will be ignored. It is
held in place by Godís almighty word.
And this peace is brought to us by the Holy Spirit.
The peace that God gives is
Godís gift. This peace
doesnít come from our spiritual struggles.
Rather, it comes from God giving it to us.
It is the peace that comes from Jesusí word.
Jesus says, ďIf anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My
Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with
him.Ē To keep Jesusí
word is to believe what it says. It
is to receive what it gives. It
is to receive peace, the peace that Jesus gives.
This peace that is from Jesus is
the peace of the Holy Spirit. The
Holy Spirit takes what belongs to Jesus and gives it to us.
He does this by His pure gospel and sacraments.
This is why you, Anthony/Aaron, are promising this morning to be
faithful in the use of the means of grace.
Let me tell you what you will be inclined to do.
You will try to do the Holy Spiritís work for him.
But you will fail. You
may try to find peace in how fervently you pray or in how sorry you
really are for your sins. You
may think that you will find true peace by coming up with your own way
to God and ignoring Christís gospel and sacraments as if you donít
need the means of grace in your life.
But that is thinking like the world, and that peace wonít last.
That peace is looking to yourself as the answer to your problems
when you are not the answer. You
are the problem. Donít
forget that. The problem every one of us faces in life is not out there
attacking us, but inside of us.
You need a Savior.
You need a Savior every single day of your life.
Not just when you are born again or when you feel particularly
bad or in need, but today and tomorrow and every single day you will
live on this earth you need a Savior.
You need the One who faced all of the conflicts, battles, and
wars ever fought. You need
the one whose perfect submission brings to us perfect peace.
You need Jesus whose blood was shed, whose body and blood you
will eat and drink in the Lordís Supper.
This is who the Holy Spirit gives us in the gospel and
sacraments. In so doing the
Holy Spirit works in our hearts with a love that burns away our doubt
and our fears and our idolatrous self-reliance, replacing it with faith.
There is only one faith that saves and that is the faith that the
Holy Ghost creates in us by telling us of Jesus.
Jesus talk is Holy Ghost talk.
This is talk that gives us peace, not the worldís peace that
will surely be lost, but Godís peace that will last forever.
As we pass through life we learn
to be afraid. We may be
afraid of past sins. Jesus
has taken those sins away. We
may be afraid of dying. Jesus
has already faced and endured your death.
Anthony/Aaron, you will learn worries you never knew before.
But as the Holy Spirit leads you back to your baptismal faith He
will give you peace. Here
is how St. Paul put it in his Epistle to the Romans, ďTherefore being
justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ.Ē It is the peace
that Jesus won on the cross when he blotted out our sins and thereby
took away Godís anger. This
peace is an accomplished fact. As
the hymnist describes it, ďJesus Christ our blessed Savior turned away
Godís wrath forever.Ē
By giving you the peace of Jesus
that the world cannot give, the Holy Spirit enables you to face
temptation and resist it. He
gives you joy in new and holy desires that come from the faith He plants
inside of you. He gives you the courage to confess your faith, not only
today when the crowd is with you, but later in life when youíll have
to pay a price for standing on Godís word.
Heís with you to overcome your doubts and to take away your
fears. He does all this by
giving Jesus to you. When
the Holy Spirit gives us the words of Jesus, the words of peace, the
words that impart forgiveness of sins and peace with God, he confirms us
in our baptism and saves us. Then the peace of God that passes all understanding will calm
our troubled heart and remove all fear.
This peace is ours. It
is real. It will remain
ours after this world has passed away.
Let us pray:
when our earthly race is run, deathís bitter hour impending,
Rev. Rolf D. Preus