Summary: A confirmation sermon encouraging continued use of the means of grace.
The forecast today is calling for 10 km-an-hour winds. That’s just a light breeze – enough to feel the wind on your face but not enough to blow leaves across the yard. Not bad if you’re planning a picnic this afternoon. Current conditions inside this building, however, are not nearly as calm. There’s been a wind blowing at hurricane strength since we started the service twenty minutes ago. This wind is not caused by atmospheric conditions and so it hasn’t messed up your hair (or mine). Nevertheless this wind has tremendous power as it comes from heaven itself. I’m talking about the Holy Spirit. On this Pentecost Sunday I want to assure you that heaven’s wind still blows as it did on Pentecost over two thousand years ago when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples in Jerusalem (Daron Lindemann). And it’s especially my prayer for you, Davin and Jesse, that you keep harnessing this wind so that it may propel you all the way to heaven.
I’m referring to the Holy Spirit as heaven’s wind because when he came upon the disciples on that Pentecost 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, he did so with a sound like a violent rushing wind. The noise was heard by many in Jerusalem so they came to investigate and the sound led them to a house where Jesus’ followers had gathered. What they saw there was incredible. On top of each of the disciples’ head flickered a flame. This was the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit. And as if that wasn’t enough, the disciples started to speak in languages they had never learned before. This enabled them to communicate with the non-Hebrew speaking pilgrims who had come to celebrate Pentecost, which was originally an Old Testament harvest festival.
But this was not the first time the disciples had been filled with the Holy Spirit. As our confirmands have already explained, no one can confess faith in Jesus unless the Holy Spirit has worked in their hearts (1 Corinthians 12:3). But the Holy Spirit does more than bring us to faith, he also keeps us in the faith and empowers us to serve Jesus. That’s why I’m encouraging you to keep harnessing heaven’s wind, Jesse and Davin. You’ve made a great start with your weekly confirmation classes. Whenever we opened our Bibles in class it was as if we were prying open God’s mouth. Out came his life-giving words and with them the Holy Spirit who blew away the dirt that had settled on us during the week threatening to block our view of what’s really important: making it to heaven. But if you don’t continue to open God’s Word and harness heaven’s wind, you’ll start to think that making MVP in football, or making a really cool robot in industrial arts class is what is important. It isn’t because no award you can win compares to what Jesus won for you through his life, death, and resurrection. He’s given you nothing less than eternal life!
Does the prospect of living with God in heaven forever get you excited? You know you’re supposed to say yes, but honestly, wouldn’t you feel more pumped if I told you that Jesus died to give you a sea-side mansion and a private jet? But that’s just how sinfully short sighted we are. Nothing on earth can compare to the endless joys of heaven. Take the best meal you’ve shared with your family, the best hotel you’ve stayed in, and the best time you’ve had hanging out with friends and multiply that by infinity and you still don’t come close to what Jesus has earned for us. So perhaps we should consider the alternative. The only other place we can spend eternity is in hell, facing God’s forever anger for having rejected Jesus as our Savior. Is it worth chasing the trinkets and the lame awards this world offers if it means letting go of heaven? No.
But it’s probably hard for you to imagine right now ever letting go of this prize of eternal life. And yet it happens. In our own church body four out of every ten confirmands stop attending church two years after they’ve been confirmed. Does this mean that they have given up on Jesus and stopped believing in him? Not necessarily. But what they forget is that if they’re not regularly being filled with the Holy Spirit, then they’re in danger of becoming like an empty Styrofoam cup that helplessly swirls around a trash can, tossed this way and that by the wind (Daron Lindemann). Such a wind blows from Satan’s foul mouth. He breathes lies when he says that it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you try to be a good person. Ah, but heaven’s wind disagrees. The Holy Spirit clearly points to Jesus as the only way to heaven, for only he has given us credit for the perfection God demands.