4th Sunday of Easter (Confirmation) (Year A - Lutheran Service Book readings)
Sunday, May 15, 2011
(Holding up a set of boards) Gorilla Glue. That’s what’s holding these boards together. Gorilla Glue is great. As their logo says, “Incredibly strong. 100% Tough.”
And I thought of Gorilla Glue this week, because of today’s reading from Acts chapter 2, the passage that describes the beginning of the church, describes the fellowship of believers after Pentecost. Our version that we read today says that the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers. Devoted themselves. Another way to translate that from the Greek is to say that they adhered strongly. They adhered strongly to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Adhered strongly. Gorilla Glue.
And I didn’t just put these boards together to demonstrate the power of Gorilla Glue. I put them together to help us remember what the believers were adhering strongly to. (Flip over boards to show words). The disciples—meaning the all of the believers, the followers of Jesus—the disciples adhered strongly to the TEACHING, FELLOWSHIP, LORD’S SUPPER, and WORSHIP. This is what brought them together, this is what was central to their life as believers, this is what encouraged them in the faith.
And this is what we adhere strongly to as disciples, as followers of Jesus. We devote ourselves to teaching and fellowship and the Lord’s Supper and worship. Those are the things that are central to our lives as believers in Jesus. These boards create a picture of us, too. We’re disciples, we’re lifelong learners, we’re followers of Jesus.
And that’s what the confirmands are, too—disciples, lifelong learners. They’ve learned the apostles’ teaching—the teachings about Christ that have been passed down through the generations beginning with the apostles and the Scriptures. They’ve been encouraged through the fellowship of believers that they’re a part of. They’ve participated in the Lord’s Supper for encouragement of their faith, for the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. They’ve worshipped Jesus, they’ve prayed, they’ve seen what it means that we worship the Lord.
These boards are a picture of what it means to be a follower of Jesus—whether one of the followers described in Acts or a follower today.
But what holds this all together? What holds all of these boards together? Gorilla Glue, right? What’s the Gorilla Glue in the lives of the disciples? What do you think made it so that they could adhere strongly to these things?
The Gorilla Glue is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who holds us to the teaching, fellowship, Lord’s Supper, and worship. The Holy Spirit is the One who works faith in our hearts so that we adhere strongly to what we’ve been given in the Gospel.
What holds our confirmands to their faith and what will enable them to continue to believe in Jesus beyond today? Gorilla Glue. The Holy Spirit.
Today my message for the confirmands is this: Don’t ever stop adhering to these things. It’s not like there’s a time in your life when you won’t need the teaching, fellowship, Lord’s Supper, and worship. These things are central to your life as believers in Christ.
But that’s the first error that may come up for you—and it may have come up for some of us, too. We start to think: I learned it all; I don’t need to hold to these things. I did Confirmation and now I’m done.
Forgive us, Lord, for trying to get unstuck. Forgive us, Lord, for wanting to walk away from these things that you have put in our lives. Forgive us, Lord, for thinking that we can do life on our own. Forgive us, Lord, for thinking that we’ve got it all figured out, and that we don’t need to be lifelong learners.
And the Lord does forgive you. The Lord forgives you for every time you try to get unstuck, every time you try to leave these things behind. The Lord forgives you, brings you back, puts some more Gorilla Glue there, the Holy Spirit keeps working in your life, and draws you to the teaching, fellowship, Lord’s Supper, and worship, draws you to the things that give life to your faith. The Lord forgives you, and His Holy Spirit works in your life to keep you faithful to these things.
But there’s another error that can come up. We can start to think: It’s up to me to adhere strongly. We can start to think that if we’re able to reject these things, then it must also be up to us to stay strong in them, to adhere strongly is about what we can do ourselves.
Forgive us, Lord, for forgetting the Holy Spirit’s role. Forgive us for thinking that we can do this by ourselves. Forgive us for thinking it’s all up to us and not remembering that faith is a gift from You, a gift worked in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
It’s all about the Gorilla Glue; it’s all about the Holy Spirit. It’s about God working that faith in our hearts.
If I reject these things, if I reject Christ, that’s to my own damnation, that’s my sin, that’s something I desperately need forgiveness for. But if I adhere strongly to these things, if I believe in Jesus and follow Him, that’s to God’s credit, God gets the glory, God is the One who did that in my life, God is the Gorilla Glue that holds me to these teachings.
So I need His forgiveness when I start to take credit for my faith, start to think that it’s my actions that keep me in the faith, that it’s my actions that will keep me strong, when really it’s all about the Gorilla Glue, I’m dependent on the Gorilla Glue, I’m dependent on the Holy Spirit to work faith in my heart.
And God does forgive you, forgives you when you try to take credit for your faith, forgives you and renews your faith in Him. Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins, including our sins of spiritual pride, which is really what this is. He died for all of our sins, so that we can be forgiven, so that we can eternal life, so that we can be renewed by His action.
You know, when I first put these boards together, I was just thinking about Gorilla Glue and how to show that the Holy Spirit adheres us strongly to the teaching, fellowship, Holy Spirit, and worship. But after I made this, I realized it also really works well with today’s Gospel reading. Jesus said, “I am the gate.” We enter into the kingdom of God through Him.
Besides looking like a gate, there’s another connection: these things that make up this gate are Jesus. We enter into the kingdom of God through Jesus, and the way we have Jesus in our lives is through the teaching, fellowship, Lord’s Supper, and worship. We enter into life with God through the teaching that tells us about the Good News of forgiveness. We enter into life with God through the fellowship of believers, surrounded by God’s people who call us to His Word. We enter into life with God through the Lord’s Supper, through the offer of the body and blood of Christ for forgiveness of our sins. We enter into life with God through worship, worship where God gives us His gifts of Word and Sacrament and we respond with prayer and praise.
These things are the gate, because these things are where we find Jesus. So enter today through these things. Enter through these things into the kingdom of God.
But always remember what holds you fast to the gate, what makes it so that you adhere strongly to these things, what makes you disciples is the Holy Spirit working in your life. It’s all about the Gorilla Glue.