John 10:11; Psalm 27:1 and Philippians 4:6-7
Kody Johnson: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep!” John 10:11
Cody Eckes: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
Avry Wuethrich: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
We heard baptismal promises affirmed today. Promises spoken over each of these youth, affirmed by them today. We heard them say a big Yes and a big No. A Yes to Jesus and a No to the powers and evil in the world. And we joined them in those promises and that Yes & No.
A big Yes: I ask you to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, reject sin, and confess the faith of the church.
A Big No: Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God, the powers of this world that rebel against God, and the ways of sin that draw you from God? I RENOUNCE THEM!
A big Yes: Using the words of the Apostle’s Creed. And, their own words in their personal faith statements. We don’t read those here; we discussed them in one-on-one conversations.
A continued big Yes: Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism:
to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth? YES!
Where do we see Jesus? In every place these promises are lived out. As we gather for worship, we hope that we see Jesus here. That you experience the welcome of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the blessing of the community of saints. And hear the Living Word of Christ proclaimed.
Today, you heard a little of why each youth chose the verse they did - how that connects to their faith journey. I gotta tell you, they chose some of my favorite verses & maybe some of yours, too.
Kody J. - Jesus, the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, us, because he loves us. And sharing that love with others doesn’t mean we are responsible to save them for eternity - Jesus already did that! We share the love we have received - unconditional, transforming, caring.
Cody E. - we have sung this Psalm (Psalm 27) - the Lord is the strength of our lives, and that is a presence and strength that we can trust in and our trust and hope is not disappointed.
Avry - Philippians - in all things, at all times, turn to God. And that peace that passes understanding will guard our hearts and minds. Praise the Lord!
A thread through these is prayer and making our needs known to God. Speaking our needs aloud helps us to shape our lives more like Jesus. We can’t do all that Jesus does - we can’t reach perfection. Christ has already made us perfect. We get to live out that love in our lives. And when we make mistakes, we confess them. That’s when, not if. When we hurt someone, we ask forgiveness. When we help someone or show that care, let them know that you’re sharing the love you have from Jesus. People will interpret our actions through their own lens unless we say otherwise. They might just think, oh, that’s a nice person. And you’re thinking - you are one of God’s beloved children, I want you to know that! Well, say something about it :-) If you do an act of kindness for someone and they say “thank you.” Try adding some words to your reply, something like “You’re welcome - I’m sharing the love I have from Jesus.”
And: I do what I do because of Christ’s love for me. I am not perfect or right all the time. In Christ, I am given the gift of forgiveness, new life and wholeness. My Savior has laid down his life for me, and taken it up again, so I have the promise of eternal life. And I get to tap into that right now - that abundant life is for right now. So that in any stress or anxiousness, worry, fear or doubt, I am never alone, never rejected, never abandoned.
This extends to living our daily lives as the rest of those commitments lay out - serving people, following Jesus’ example, and striving for peace and justice in all the earth. We are called to care for immigrants, orphans, poor, those experiencing homelessness, victims of other injustices. In this, I'm following Christ. When we advocate for care for all people, the end of discrimination - treating others as you would be treated; care for the environment so it is here for another 7 generations - care for God’s creation - we engage in this work because it is care for God’s people, God’s creation, and we are called to do so by Jesus. “I'm following Jesus by doing these things.” As Jesus said:
I have come to proclaim release to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19) and from Matthew 25 - “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me...Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matt 25: 35-40).
Jesus Christ is a gift and a guide in our lives. And then we are called to be that for neighbors.
Short version of Lutheran faith - Jesus loves us right where we are and doesn’t leave us there. God gifts us and calls us into our whole lives & into the world. Kody, Cody and Avry, as you continue your walk with Jesus, it is God's Word & your voice that people will hear in this world. It is the work God calls us to and your hands that will do it. And we walk with you. It is God’s Word, Our Voices. God’s work, Our hands. Amen.
Rev. Elizabeth Bier is the pastor of ONE in Christ Parish, a three-point parish in Greenwood, Longwood, and Withee. She is ordained with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and has served the ONE in Christ Parish since February of 2019.Profile
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