The Gift of the Holy Spirit and Our Newest Confirmands

 Today many of us wear the color red to commemorate the gift of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost.  In the first reading from Acts, we learned and heard again the account of the apostles receiving the gift of foreign languages to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to thousands of Jews gathered in Jerusalem.  Today also marks the celebration of first communion for two of our third grade students, who, with their parents, completed study and discussed our beliefs about this sacrament as Lutherans. Today also marks the Affirmation of Baptism of our three Confirmation students.

During the past nine months, I’ve seen these three students grow in their faith, both through service projects, actively participating during Lenten worship services, recording their thoughts and observations a dozen times in sermon notes and wrestling with questions of faith – like understanding the Holy Trinity, what it means to be Lutheran, and learning more about the Bible.  Today we hear their individual faith statements, which express their beliefs and indeed, the gift of the Holy Spirit evident in their young lives.

Ava’s faith statement

My family & I started going to Overland Park Lutheran Church in 2007 when I was six years old. I was baptized here April 6, 2008, along with my brother. My mom does a lot here at the church. She teaches a Sunday school class and for years has helped set up Vacation Bible School, which I get to also help with. My dad plays drums and sings in the church band.

How do you see God? Or can you see him at all? Kataphatic and Apophatic are the ways you view God. Kataphatic is where you picture God as something you can see or touch like a man with a long white beard, or a type of King who sits on a throne, or maybe even a wizard. Apophatic is much different. It means you don’t believe God is something you could feel with your hands or see with your eyes, it’s more of a spirit or feeling to yourself. When we first learned about Kataphatic VS. Apophatic, I thought God was a old man sitting up in heaven who had a beard, but throughout confirmation that image has changed. Now I don’t think there are words to describe God.

When Jesus spoke of salvation he spoke in present tense. The speaker Shane Hipps told us how we act as if salvation is only our afterlife. We think about what we can do on Earth to affect our afterlife of salvation, but what if life is our salvation? Hipps told his story of skipping a meal and it happened to be the main course, life may be our “main course.” We should celebrate life because God promises salvation.

Lutheranism had its beginnings in 1517 when Martin Luther called for the correction of errors in the churches. What is a Lutheran? A Lutheran is a Christian who trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior. Lutherans accept the Holy Bible as the source of Christian love, guidance, and doctrine. Lutheran churches teach that the Bible is the Word of God and shows God in action. Also, God is one in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I have served for our church as well as for Metro Lutheran Ministries, assisting with the food pantry, school supplies and sack lunch packing, and the Christmas store multiple times. My favorite of the three would be the Christmas store because you really feel the holiday joy from helping less fortunate families and seeing their joy. I’ve also been a VBS assistant, acolyte, and at the Lenten services I was a reader, greeter, and usher. I took a lot from all of that. It feels good and builds a lot of character to help and serve God and love your neighbors as yourself. Helping at these events really influenced my faith.

In summer 2015 the youth group at OPLC attended Detroit. Each day was filled with fun activities on seeking God and “Rising Up”, followed by nightly services and concerts. On our serving day we worked with other groups on building up the city. We manufactured and filled wheelbarrows with house and yard supplies to give to people whose houses and yard needed to be rebuilt. At the gatherings at night, there were many speakers and musicians that helped guide me to be the Lutheran I am today.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 is a verse from the Bible that means a lot to me. It makes me feel safe when I am afraid and comforts me. When I go through a struggle in life it is often hard to stay positive but thinking back to this verse strengthens me. If I knew someone going through a rough time I would recite this verse to them and hope that they take away what I take from this verse.

Spencer’s faith statement

As Christians, we believe in the Holy Trinity and that we should attempt to follow in the way of Jesus. We are all taught to be like Jesus and to pray to God. I think that those pretty much sum up what it means to be a Christian. In this paper, I will go more in depth about the Holy Trinity, why you should follow Jesus, and how to reach God through prayer.

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7) If you were to tell a non­Christian what the Holy Trinity is, you could just tell them to look up this verse. Now, some think that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same thing, but they aren’t. People mistake the Trinity as something along the lines of “God took the form of the Holy Spirit so Mary could conceive Jesus, who was also another incarnation of God.” It is nothing like this. I mean, it says right in the Apostle’s Creed that when Jesus rose to heaven, he was seated at the right hand of the Father. Also, the Holy Spirit almost acts as a personal messenger of God, and infamously impregnates Mary with Jesus. Now, what does this have to do with my faith? It is very important to know that the Holy Trinity is not just one being in three different forms, but three beings joined together in a trinity, the Holy Trinity.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21) This verse means the most to me because this basically is a summary of what we as Christians believe in. In the Bible, Jesus lead a sin­free life and went around Israel performing miracles and spreading the word of God. As Christians, we attempt to follow in the way of Jesus, yet fall short of this. So you may think, then, “Why should I try to be like Jesus if I can’t possibly be like him?” According to the Gospel, those who believe in Jesus will not die, but live eternally in Heaven. So, therefore, you should follow Jesus so you can find salvation in Heaven.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) We say prayers in church every Sunday, but that alone is not enough. You should pray every day, asking for forgiveness and for the wellbeing of those in need. If you pray enough, He will hear them and answer them with a miracle. This is why you should pray every day. These are all things that I believe make a good Christian. I believe that the Holy Trinity is not a single being, but more like 3 beings sort of working together. I believe in following Jesus and trying to be like Him. I believe that God will hear and answer my prayers. These are all things that summarize my faith.

Kyle’s faith statement

As a Christian I have learned many things about Christ and Jesus in the last few years.  The verse Jeremiah 1:12 NIV The Lord said to me, “you have seen correctly for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”  I know that he has a plan for us and is always watching us no matter what.  He will always be there to guide us to make sure that his plan is fulfilled.  I pray to God to walk with me and continue to show me his plan.

There is also another passage that speaks to me.  It is Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear O Israel:  The Lord your God is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  This passage speaks to me because it talks about how I should follow his ways and love him.  I believe that if you have love, follow God, and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you will go to heaven.

In my 14 years I have attended a few churches, and it enriches my knowledge about Christ.  Attending confirmation classes has been fun, and I liked learning more about people in the Bible and what we as Lutherans believe.  Thinking about ideas for my faith statement has made me realize things about Jesus and God.  It has made me realize that I should help others and love my neighbor as myself.

When I was younger God was like a force of good luck.  When something great happened I would thank him, and if something bad went wrong I would ask for help.  I still do that, but now I also pray for forgiveness and for advice.  God is a strong force in my life, and he impacts me in many ways.  He brings me hope, joy, and faith in life.  He’s like a best friend to me; he helps me through everything.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)  I know that the Lord is always with me and will look over me at all times.  I will never be afraid that the Lord won’t be with me.  When I am upset, made, or feeling hopeless, I know that the Lord will be there to guide me.  The Lord is so important in my life because he leads me to do right in the world and to follow my dreams.  If it wasn’t for the Lord, I don’t know where I would be today.

May the Holy Spirit continue to work in the lives of these new confirmands and this congregation.