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April 21st Sermon

April 21, 2013

Stewards of the Faith—Pass It On

Deuteronomy 4:1-9

I Corinthians 15:1-8

John 20:30-31

 

Children’s Sermon:  Are there some stories your parents tell you about people you don’t know?  Are there stories they tell you about when you were born or when you learned to walk?  One thing your parents, aunts, uncles and older siblings do that no one else can is tell you your family history, knowing it gives you a sense of who you are.  I’m lucky that someone in my grandmother’s family started writing things down a long time ago.  Listen to what I found out about my family (Tell the “giving birth during prairie fire” story).  Knowing that I come from such a determined, self-sufficient family, gives me courage and strength on days when I think I can’t do one more thing.  Today, I want you to ask someone in your family to tell you a story you’ve never heard before.  You might be surprised at what you hear.  Remind them that they are the history keepers and storytellers of your family and that it’s important to keep that going.  Let me tell you one thing I know about each one of you.  God made you and he loves you very much.

 

Intro:  Today we begin a new endeavor as a church family.  Together we are going to dig in to understand what we believe and why.  We are going to begin the study of the Essential Tenets of the Reformed Faith.  An Essential Tenet is simply something we believe to be essential to defining our Christian, Reformed, Presbyterian faith.  Many of these essentials may be shared with other denominations, but the combination of them make them uniquely our essential tenets.  They have been brushed over for years even though class after class of elected officers vow that they will uphold them.  And basically they are faithful in that vow, at least in what they think those essentials are, but here is our chance to clear the air, set the record straight, start off again on the right foot.  These are the things that define how we understand Scripture and how that understanding shapes what we believe, how we live, and how we experience life.

 

I don’t know about you but I don’t naturally, regularly stop to see if all of my actions live out the words I say I believe.  This is an opportunity to assess that, and as we move into re-identifying ourselves, it will lay out what we are aligning ourselves with as an ECO congregation.  This is a nine-week series that will flow from the worship service to a study group after worship or on Monday nights.  We are encouraging those who will participate to print out their own study guides from the internet or donate some funds towards the office making those copies for you.  The more you are able to immerse yourself in this study, the more you will know about what you say you believe and what this church is about.

 

The introductory theme for today is a reminder that we are the stewards of the faith.  We who are faithful are the ones who have to keep it going, teaching it to our children, sharing it with those who are eager to hear it.

 

We’ll look at three Scriptures today that will call us to accountability.  We are the keepers of the faith and have been entrusted with this truth to pass it on to the next generation.

 

Deuteronomy 4:1-9  (PPT x3)

God has always called his people to follow him.  That’s what heads of household do.  As the head of our household of faith, God calls us to follow.  We learn from our Jewish ancestors what God wants;

  • Keep God’s commands, not adding or subtracting from them
  • Remember God has revealed himself faithful both in Scripture and in your life – the ways you have seen with your own eyes.
  • Live out God’s commands and show yourself as upstanding and wise in the society you live in.
  • Call on God, even in public, because you know he hears and answers prayers. He is near – live like it!
  • Let’s re-read verse 9: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”  It’s easy to forget or get distracted from God’s truth.  We need to be reminded.  Your children and grand-children need to be reminded.  We are called to be reminders.

 

I Corinthians 15:1-8  (PPx2)

Paul wants to “remind” the church of what he has already taught and preached to them.  That’s one reason that congregational worship is important – we come together to be reminded of the truths we believe.  Paul has been made the steward of the gospel of Jesus Christ just as I have been and just as you have been.  And Paul reminds the early church as I remind you; it is by the gospel of Jesus Christ that you are saved!  Not by works, not by good intentions but by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ you are saved, if you believe!

 

This is the message that we are called to remind our children of and to proclaim to those who have never heard.  You?  Yes you!  If not you then who?  We are the ones that have been made stewards of this Good News.  Are we meant to keep it to ourselves?  That’s not good stewardship of something that is meant to be shared.

 

John 20:30-31 (PPt x1)

Is everything about God, about Christ written down?  No!  Can we, will we be able to answer every question we have based directly on what Scripture says?  Maybe not to our satisfaction!  Will some things about God remain a mystery this side of heaven?  Absolutely!  But the things we do have written down, the things that we can read for ourselves, those things that early believers maintained, these are written so that we can believe and have life in him.  And that is enough.

 

Concl.  When you tell your children the times when God has been faithful, you are being a steward of the faith.  When you remind them to seek your God who hears you when you pray, you are being a steward of the faith.  When you offer a co-worker the hope you have found in Christ you are being a steward of the faith you know.  When you admit you may not know everything but run with what you do understand to be true, you are being a faithful steward of the truth.

 

Today we have the privilege of being joined by two more who are and will be faithful stewards of the faith they know as we receive into our membership, Colleen Close and Peggy Chambers.

 

Service for Reception of New Members

 

Presentation (by an Elder)

 

Elder:  On behalf of the session I present Peggy Chambers and Colleen Close, who have been received into this congregation by reaffirmation of faith.

 

Minister:  You come to us as members of the one holy universal church, into which you were baptized, and by which you have been nurtured.  We are one with each other, sisters and brothers in the family of God.  We rejoice in the gifts you bring to us.  As you join with us in the worship and service of this congregation, it is fitting that together we reaffirm the covenant into which we were baptized, claiming again the promises of God, which are ours in our baptism.

 

Hear these words from Holy Scripture:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.  (Eph. 4:4-6)

 

Profession of Faith (addressing the congregation)

Sisters and brothers in Christ, our baptism is the sign and seal of our cleansing from sin, and of our being grafted into Christ.  Through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the power of sin was broken and God’s kingdom entered our world.  Through baptism we were made citizens of God’s kingdom, and freed from the bondage of sin.  Let us celebrate that freedom and redemption through the renewal of the promises made at our baptism.  I ask you therefore, once again to reject sin, and to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, and to confess the faith of the church, in which we were baptized.

 

Renunciations

Would the congregation please stand if you are able?

Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?  I do.

Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior, trusting in his grace and love?  I do.

Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love?  I will with God’s help.

 

Profession

With the whole church, let us confess our faith using the Apostle’s Creed.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    

the Maker of heaven and earth,
    

and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    

born of the virgin Mary,
   

 suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    

was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
    

and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
    

from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
   

the holy catholic church;
   

the communion of saints;
    

the forgiveness of sins;
    

the resurrection of the body;
    

and the life everlasting.

Amen.

You may be seated

 

(to the new members)

You have publicly professed your faith.  Will you be a faithful member of this congregation, share in its worship and ministry through your prayers and gifts, your study and service, and so fulfill your calling to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?  I will with God’s help.

 

Let us pray:  Holy God, we praise you for calling us to be a servant people, and for gathering us into the body of Christ.  We thank you for choosing to add to our number brothers and sisters in faith.  Together, may we live in your Spirit, and so love one another, that we may have the mind of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom we give honor and glory forever.  Amen.

 

Laying On of Hands (and anointing with oil)

O Lord, uphold Peggy/Colleen by your Holy Spirit.  Daily increase in him/her your gifts of grace:

The spirit of wisdom and understanding,

The spirit of counsel and might,

The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord,

The spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever.

 

Ever living God, guard these your servants with your protecting hand, and let your Holy Spirit be with them forever.  Lead them to know and obey your Word that they may serve you in this life and dwell with you forever in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.