This has been called Jesus’ creed, two parts of the great commandment that Jesus’ taught and lived; Love God and Love your neighbor. “Do this,” Jesus says, “and you will live.” It sounds so simple, but we can only love God and our neighbors because God first loved us by sending Jesus to live, teach, die, and rise again for us. We experience and understand God’s love more fully in the life of the church in three important steps we take in our journey of faith; Baptism, Communion and Confirmation.
Many of us received baptism as infants before we could remember it or have anything to say about it. We baptize infants because we believe that God loves us and welcomes us into the church family from the very beginning before we can do anything for God to love us. In Baptism God also forgives our sins before we know what we are doing wrong. Parents and godparents or sponsors reject sin and confess their faith in God who comes to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, when a baby is baptized. But people can be baptized at any age and confess this faith for themselves. We believe we only need to be baptized once to be forgiven all our sins. But baptism begins a daily, lifelong process of dying to our sins to live new lives as children of God.
After Baptism the next step we take is receiving our first Holy Communion, when Jesus welcomes us to the table he shared with his disciples at their last supper. This meal is also a promise of the feast we will share with all God’s saints in heaven. We believe that Jesus is really present for us in holy communion in the earthly elements of bread and wine or juice. We never fully understand the mystery of how Jesus can be present at every communion service, every Sunday all around the world. But we prepare to receive our first holy communion by learning more about how Jesus shares his body and blood with us to make us more fully a part of his living body the church. I didn’t receive communion for the first time until I finished 3 years of confirmation classes. Now we welcome people to share communion at an earlier age when they begin to ask for it.
The next but not the last step in our journey of faith is called Confirmation. We usually take this step as teenagers when we prepare to confirm or affirm the faith of our baptism for ourselves. Confirmation allows us to participate more fully in the life of the church by voting at annual meetings and taking on leadership roles. Teenagers usually prepare for confirmation by learning more about the 5 parts of the Small Catechism that Martin Luther wrote for parents to teach their older children by answering their questions about faith. The Catechism teaches us more about the meaning of Baptism, Holy Communion, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and The Apostles’ Creed and how important they are to remember as we continue our journey of faith in the church. While Faith Church has been searching for a new pastor there haven’t been regular classes for students to prepare for First Holy Communion and Confirmation, but the Congregational Council is planning to resume those classes as soon as you call your next pastor.
In the meantime, while I’m your Bridge Pastor through this summer, I’ll be glad to talk with you about Baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation or any other questions you may have about our life together, in Faith.
Enjoy a blessed, restful and refreshing July,
Pastor Bruce +