The liturgy remained the same but it came dressed as, well, I’m not sure. Maybe as a hipster? Maybe as a costume ball? But I don’t mean it in a bad way.
First off, it was Confirmation Sunday and Holy Cross had 20 young Christians, in age and in faith, to defend the faith, even unto death. If you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for the confirmands to remain in the faith. Studies show two out of every three church-going youth drop out of the church by the time they reach college age. One reason for this is because youth are not usually taught how to defend their faith during their Sunday School years. They find it hard to defend what they believe when their peers ask them questions about the Bible. Rather than stand alone they find it easier to give up and join ‘the crowd’.
Let’s talk music. Our opening hymn was “I Know That My Redeemer Lives“, a standard in the Lutheran church. Yay! Our song of response was “I Am Jesus’s Little Lamb“, a song that appears infrequently on the music rotation. Now here is where it gets different. The next song was “Shine On Us” but sung by a quartet of church members. This was a new group to Holy Cross with two young female voices and two mature male voices. It was wonderfully performed. I hope for more from this vocal ensemble. The sermon hymn was “The King of Love My Shepherd Is“, another one on the not-so-often list. This might be the only hymn containing the word ‘unction‘ (def. – the action of anointing someone with oil or ointment as a religious rite or as a symbol of investiture as a monarch). Feel free to use this as a trivia question. The offering song was “Jesus, Name Above All Names“. Our communion songs were “Good, Good Father”, a new song, but very nice. “Heart of Worship”, an oldie but goodie. And lastly, “We Fall Down“, another Top 40 from praise songs gone by. All three songs were led by the quartet and since they used microphones their voices overwhelmed the congregation. Most people didn’t sing, I think, because they thought they weren’t supposed to. Since there were about one billion persons at the 10:45 service, the communion songs ran out quickly. The final song, “We Fall Down” became an elongated jam with … and I’m not kidding here but with … are you ready? OK, here goes … are you sure?
A saxophone solo!
What? A saxophone? Were we in a Lutheran nightclub? No! A real saxophone with a real saxophone player! And wonderfully played! The song played out so long as an instrumental that we were treated to several solos. Go Holy Cross!
Our recessional was “Shout to The Lord“, a favorite of mine and Susan’s.
Per the liturgy, we prayed and responded, and we confessed and were blessed with a 2,000 year old pardon of our sinful ways, sat for Scripture and stood for Gospel, and were blessed with a benediction as we finished worship. Just so you know, whether you attend church, don’t attend church or don’t even believe in the cloud of witnesses who surround the living faithful, you were prayed for and over. You were blessed with good tidings, prayed a safe life, urged a desire for you to accept the love of the living Christ, and many other things God bestows upon you without making it known to any one of us. There’s infinite mystery in a loving God.
But wait! There is more! Our faith life director, Scott, gave the sermon Sunday. Both pastors were attendant but with confirmation Scott filled in to help. His sermon centered on the scripture reading Acts 2:42-47:
The Fellowship of the Believers
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
He spoke about devotion. Does a confirmand’s spiritual education end with being graduated into the Church body? Can they slide into adulthood with the basic knowledge of the Lutheran Church? Overall, can any church member just sit back and rely on a part-time Bible study or occasional Bible page flipping?
The answer is ‘NO’ (but you knew that was coming).
Attending church on Christmas and Easter only doesn’t cut it either. The Church back in the days of the apostles operated the way it was meant to with giving and selflessness, prayer and worship and fellowship. As with Adam and Eve, it didn’t take long for Satan to enter the scene, this time through Ananias and Sapphira when they tried to cheat the church with their donations from a sold property. Lying to The Holy Ghost is an unwinnable war.
What can we do to stay strong in the faith? Keep learning God’s word. Read the Bible, attend Bible study or join a small group. Become aware of His word to the point that you will recognize it when spoken but also discern words that are NOT His. Attend corporate worship. Be surrounded by like-faithed others who share the same doctrine of the church and love for the Lord. Be in fellowship with other Christians. Eat with them, share with them and through them help others. Stay back from ne’er-do-wells and others who want you to do evil.
…and by His stripes we are healed…