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Hello my name is Rev. Benny Anthony, and the title of this talk is ďGodís Gift to You.Ē
What was the best gift that you ever received or gave? Usually the most memorable gifts are those that represent the care of the giver, a sacrifice of love for you. Even years later, such a gift serves as a warm reminder of the giver, rekindles love for him or her, and makes you feel nearer to that person. I have saved some of the letters that my mother wrote to me many years ago. Sometimes Iíll take those letters out and read them and when I do I really feel close to her even though she has been with the Lord for many years.
God gives us a number of special gifts that represent Godís love and presence in our lives. We call these special gifts by names such as sacraments or means of grace.
Sacraments are ďsacred moments,Ē special acts of worship that Jesus gave to us by instruction or by example. They are means by which we remember and celebrate Christís action in our lives.
Through sacred symbol and drama, we represent Jesusí life, death, resurrection, and presence with us in the Holy Spirit. Even though many centuries have come and gone, He continues to minister to us.
Most churches recognize two sacraments: baptism and Holy Communion. Some churches consider other rites to be sacraments also.
God has given the church these special ways to remember Godís action in Jesus Christ, to experience Godís presence, and to grow closer to God. Each of these represents out connection with God.
Letís take a look at Godís gifts to us:
1. Baptismóthe sign of new life in Christ. Baptism marks the beginning of your spiritual journey. Baptism is symbolized by water. With the sign of water, baptism reminds us who and whose we really are: Godís royal children created in His image. In the baptism of infants and children, we celebrate Godís unconditional love and promise for their lives.
When adults are baptized, we celebrate both Godís unconditional love and their spiritual rebirth. In that sacred moment, they accept Godís grace, come to faith, are cleansed of their sins, and become new persons in Christ.
2. Confirmationóa rite marking growth in Christ, progress on the spiritual journey that began in baptism.
Confirmation is a sign that we are taking responsibility for our own relationship with God. The church celebrates and confirms Godís work of grace taking hold within us. We dedicate ourselves to Christ.
In baptism, God says, ďYou are My child. I made you. I love you forever.Ē In confirmation, we respond, ďAnd you are my God. You made me in Your image. I will live in a way that shows your truth and love.Ē
3. Ordinationóa rite marking Godís call to special responsibility for Christís ministry as a pastor.
Not everyone experiences ordination. But every Christian is called to ministry. In ordination, the church affirms the fact that all Christians are ministers and are given gifts that equip them for ministry.
Ordination celebrates that God sets people apart for special service in the church community to preach and teach the Word; to administer the sacraments of baptism and Communion; and to care for the churchís life of worship, nurture, and ministry.
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