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WHY DO LUTHERANS
HAVE CONFIRMATION
IN THEIR CHURCHES?
Confirmation is a public rite of the Church that is
preceded by a period of instruction designed to help
baptized Christians identify with the life and mission of
the Christian community. The rite of Confirmation
provides an opportunity for the individual Christian,
relying on God's promise of Holy Baptism, to make a
personal public confession of the faith and a lifelong
pledge of fidelity to Christ.
Matthew 28:18-20 commands that we go and make
disciples by baptizing and teaching. Baptism gives the
sinner a new relationship with the church. It makes one
fully a member of the church. (1 Cor. 12:13 ) It gives
the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5 , Acts 2:38-39 ) The
Scriptures make it incumbent upon the church (1 Cor
11:28) to exercise concern for its members, to help them
grow through Word and Sacrament, to identify more
deeply with the Christian community and participate
fully in its mission. This involves the mandate, to teach.
The key to understanding Confirmation is the
Sacrament of Baptism.
Baptism makes one fully a member of the holy,
Christian (catholic) and apostolic church. Everything
that God has to give, He graciously bestows at Holy
Baptism. (God holds no good thing back from us,
especially his graciousness.)
Biblically, there is only one kind of membership in the
church - a baptized membership. Our baptismal
covenant is unilateral. It is totally God at work in us
(Phil 2:13 ). We cannot even wiggle our little finger to
come to God. “You did not choose me, but I chose
you...” (John 15:16 ) and “For it is by grace you have
been saved, through faith - and this not from
yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that
no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 ).Confirmation can only
be understood in relation to a sound doctrine and
practice of Holy Baptism. Confirmation is not our
renewal of the baptismal vow. We cannot renew that
which is totally an act of God. Baptism is the living and
active dynamic in our lives. Our daily affirmation of it
should lead us up to Calvary, nail us to the cross, make
us die with Christ, put us under cover of the earth, and
bring us forth again into newness of life as we recall that
“all of us who were baptized into Christ were
baptized into his death...and that, just as Christ was
raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life” (Rom 6:3-4 ).
Questions the minister addresses the catechumens:
You have been baptized and you have been taught the
faith according to our Lord's bidding. The fulfillment of
his bidding we now celebrate with thankful hearts.
Everything of faith was fulfilled at the time of baptism.
The focus here is celebrating that the two parts of our
Lord's mandate have been fulfilled: to baptize and to
Do you intend to remain steadfast in this confession and
church, [the body of Christ], and to suffer all, even
death, rather than fall away from it?
-and-
Do you desire to be a member of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church and of this congregation?
Those who are baptized, including our confirmands,
were made full and complete members of Christ's church
at their baptisms. There is no denominational loyalty
alluded to in the rite of Holy Baptism although in the
Rite of Holy Baptism the congregation assumes
responsibility for the baptized. This question asks, now
that you understand what the faith is all about, do you
still confess it as something you intend to conform your
life to - even if it would cost you your life?
Then, having been instructed in the Christian faith and
understanding the covenant God made with him or her in
Holy Baptism, the confirmand is asked, Do you desire to
be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and of
this congregation? The emphasis here is on desire to
be, not desire to become. The question calls for a
personal commitment of membership and identification
with the local congregation and an intentional
participation in its worship and ministry. It does not
imply that one becomes a member of the Christian
church by Baptism and a member of the congregation by
confirmation.
The point of practicing one's Christian life in the church
is also of deep significance. One cannot go on being a
Christian unlocatedly. Christianity is not a “solo trip.”
Just as a part of the human body cannot live long
severed from the rest of the body, one tends not to live
long spiritually apart from the church because one is not
in the presence of the channels by which God has said
He gives His grace to us, through the Word and the
Sacraments. (Thanks be to God the Holy Spirit
continually calls His own back, even when they have
slipped.)
God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, give you his
Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge,...of
sanctification and the fear of God.
We pray again for the Holy Spirit. This is not the first
time the Holy Spirit is received. (In the Middle
Ages some taught that Baptism was intended for the
forgiveness of sins and confirmation for the bestowal of
the Holy Spirit.) Acts 2:38-39 declares that the
forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are
both given fully at baptism.
Upon this your profession and promise I invite and
welcome you, as members of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church and this congregation.
This is not the time one becomes a member of the Body
of Christ, nor do the words “upon this your profession”
intimate that their profession makes it possible for God
to grant them something new. (God has already given
the greatest gift he has to give at Baptism -- his gracious
forgiveness won on the cross and personally ‘applied’ to
the baptized one.) Here the congregation invites the
confirmand to live out their faith fully and continually in
worship and service of God in this place.
Confirmation day is a day of joy, as confirmands confess
their Christian faith before the congregation. It is a time
of celebration as they affirm another step along the way
of their Christian walk, nurtured by God's holy Word
and the sacraments.
Every day, as Luther said, the Old Adam is to be
drowned again in the water of baptism and brought forth
to newness of life (Romans 6:3-4 ) with the precious
forgiveness of sins which our Lord bought for us by his
suffering and death on the cross. Thank God, “His
mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23 ).
God the Holy Spirit will confirm in us that growth in
grace which we sinners are unable to effect, but which
he has done for us through his blessed Son and bestowed
on us in our Baptism.
Pastor Hodel
The Rite of
Confirmation
What does this mean?
A
Lutheran
Understanding
Faith Lutheran Church
34381 Calle Portola
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624
949-496-1901
www@faithcapo.

The Rite of Confirmation. What does this mean?

WHY DO LUTHERANS HAVE CONFIRMATION IN THEIR CHURCHES? compressed_luther_rose

 

Confirmation is a public rite of the Church that is preceded by a period of instruction designed to help baptized Christians identify with the life and mission of the Christian community. The rite of Confirmation provides an opportunity for the individual Christian, relying on God’s promise of Holy Baptism, to make a personal public confession of the faith and a lifelong pledge of fidelity to Christ.

 

Matthew 28:18-20 commands that we go and make disciples by baptizing and teaching. Baptism gives the sinner a new relationship with the church. It makes one fully a member of the church. (1 Cor. 12:13 ) It gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5 , Acts 2:38-39 ) The Scriptures make it incumbent upon the church (1 Cor 11:28 ) to exercise concern for its members, to help them grow through Word and Sacrament, to identify more deeply with the Christian community and participate fully in its mission. This involves the mandate, to teach.

 

The key to understanding Confirmation is the Sacrament of Baptism.

 

Baptism makes one fully a member of the holy, Christian (catholic) and apostolic church. Everything that God has to give, He graciously bestows at Holy Baptism. (God holds no good thing back from us, especially his graciousness.)

 

Biblically, there is only one kind of membership in the church - a baptized membership. Our baptismal covenant is unilateral. It is totally God at work in us (Phil 2:13 ). We cannot even wiggle our little finger to come to God. “You did not choose me, but I chose you...” (John 15:16 ) and “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 ).Confirmation can only be understood in relation to a sound doctrine and practice of Holy Baptism. Confirmation is not our renewal of the baptismal vow. We cannot renew that which is totally an act of God. Baptism is the living and active dynamic in our lives. Our daily affirmation of it should lead us up to Calvary, nail us to the cross, make us die with Christ, put us under cover of the earth, and bring us forth again into newness of life as we recall that “all of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death...and that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom 6:3-4 ).

 

Questions the minister addresses the catechumens:

 

You have been baptized and you have been taught the faith according to our Lord’s bidding. The fulfillment of his bidding we now celebrate with thankful hearts.

 

Everything of faith was fulfilled at the time of baptism. The focus here is celebrating that the two parts of our Lord’s mandate have been fulfilled: to baptize and to teach. (Matthew 28:18-20 )

 

Do you intend to remain steadfast in this confession and church, [the body of Christ], and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?

 

and-

 

Do you desire to be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and of this congregation?

 

Those who are baptized, including our confirmands, were made full and complete members of Christ’s church at their baptisms. There is no denominational loyalty alluded to in the rite of Holy Baptism although in the Rite of Holy Baptism the congregation assumes responsibility for the baptized. This question asks, now that you understand what the faith is all about, do you still confess it as something you intend to conform your life to - even if it would cost you your life?

 

Then, having been instructed in the Christian faith and understanding the covenant God made with him or her in Holy Baptism, the confirmand is asked, Do you desire to be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and of this congregation? The emphasis here is on desire to be, not desire to become. The question calls for a personal commitment of membership and identification with the local congregation and an intentional participation in its worship and ministry. It does not imply that one becomes a member of the Christian church by Baptism and a member of the congregation by confirmation.

 

The point of practicing one’s Christian life in the church is also of deep significance. One cannot go on being a Christian unlocatedly. Christianity is not a “solo trip.” Just as a part of the human body cannot live long severed from the rest of the body, one tends not to live long spiritually apart from the church because one is not in the presence of the channels by which God has said He gives His grace to us, through the Word and the Sacraments. (Thanks be to God the Holy Spirit continually calls His own back, even when they have slipped.)

 

God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, give you his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge,...of sanctification and the fear of God.

 

We pray again for the Holy Spirit. This is not the first time the Holy Spirit is received. (In the Middle Ages some taught that Baptism was intended for the forgiveness of sins and confirmation for the bestowal of the Holy Spirit.) Acts 2:38-39 declares that the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit are both given fully at baptism.

 

Upon this your profession and promise I invite and welcome you, as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and this congregation.

 

This is not the time one becomes a member of the Body of Christ, nor do the words “upon this your profession” intimate that their profession makes it possible for God to grant them something new. (God has already given the greatest gift he has to give at Baptism—his gracious forgiveness won on the cross and personally ‘applied’ to the baptized one.) Here the congregation invites the confirmand to live out their faith fully and continually in worship and service of God in this place.

 

Confirmation day is a day of joy, as confirmands confess their Christian faith before the congregation. It is a time of celebration as they affirm another step along the way of their Christian walk, nurtured by God’s holy Word and the sacraments.

 

Every day, as Luther said, the Old Adam is to be drowned again in the water of baptism and brought forth to newness of life (Romans 6:3-4 ) with the precious forgiveness of sins which our Lord bought for us by his suffering and death on the cross. Thank God, “His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23 ). God the Holy Spirit will confirm in us that growth in grace which we sinners are unable to effect, but which he has done for us through his blessed Son and bestowed on us in our Baptism.

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Pastor Hodel

 
Individual Confession and Absolution PDF Print E-mail
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Beginning in September the Pastors are going to be keeping regular hours set aside for, what many call “Private Confession”. That title is, in part a misnomer. Indeed the confession will be private and indeed there is confession, however, it is better to call a thing by what it really is. Better to call it by the gift conveyed. Better to call it Private or Individual Absolution for that name allows us to reflect on the great gift given in Individual Confession and Absolution; the forgiveness of sins, or Absolution.

 


Some ask, “Isn’t this a catholic thing?” The answer is, yes, but not catholic in the sense of Roman Catholic. Holy Absolution belongs to the whole Christian church on earth (the catholic, universal church) and not only to the Roman Catholic church. More than a “Lutheran” or “Catholic” practice, private confession is a Christian practice. As Dr. Luther put it in the Large Catechism, “When I urge you to go to confession, I am simply urging you to be a Christian.” Confession was known and practiced by the apostles (James 5:16 , 1 John 1:9 ) and is established on the authority of Jesus Christ to forgive and retain sins which He entrusted to His Church and exercises publicly through the Office of the Holy Ministry (Matthew 16:18-19 , 18:15-20, John 20:19-23 ).


From the days of the Reformation the Lutherans distinctly said that “Our churches teach that private Absolution should be retained in the churches, although listing all sins is not necessary for Confession. for, according to the Psalm, it is impossible. “Who can discern his errors?” (Augsburg Confession, Article XI) The Lutheran reformers did not set aside private confession, as the later radicals did. Instead, they reformed it so that Christ’s free forgiveness was the center and focus. The Lutherans set aside such legalistic practices as forcing the faithful to come to confession at fixed times during the year, requiring that every sin be confessed in order to be forgiven, and prescribing certain religious works to offset the temporal punishments of sin. But the Lutheran reformers never would have imagined a Lutheran congregation without private confession. In fact, Dr. Luther himself included a short liturgy for private confession in the Small Catechism to teach people how to make confession. He also commended the practice highly from his own personal experience.


Private Absolution is not new to Faith Lutheran Church of Capistrano Beach. On a regular basis members darken the door of the Pastoral office to confess their sins and hear that, for Christ’s sake, their sins are forgiven. They are no more forgiven than when they hear their sins forgiven during the general confession and absolution on Sunday morning. It’s just that Private Absolution allows the confessor to name the sin that is troubling him or her so that they may hear the Pastor say, “Yes, that sin, too, is covered by the death of Jesus.”


Should I feel forced or compelled to come to Private Absolution? By no means. This is one of the abuses taken out of confession and absolution. Never would we want to make Law out of Gospel. Never would we want to make mandatory something placed in the realm of Christian freedom.


Know this about Private Absolution.


All the sins you confess die in the ears of the Pastor. Medical professionals have HIPAA laws and lawyers have confidentiality statements… but there’s something even deeper going on when your Pastor hears your confession. The Pastor may not divulge anything heard in confession because the sins confessed are removed by Christ’s absolution; they’re forgiven. Forgiven means they’re let go, they’re gone. And if they’re gone, then they can’t be brought up again. That’s an important thing to remember when your spouse, or anyone asks you to forgive them. To forgive means that you will never bring that sin up again. So be careful about saying, I forgive you, because by saying that you relinquish you’re right to hold that person’s sins over them. But then, think also about how freeing that is, to hear, I forgive you… I’m letting it all go. And that’s what you hear from God every time you confess your sins to Him. He lets them go and will never bring them up to you again. Your sins have been drowned in the waters of Baptism and nailed to Calvary’s cross. And neither can Satan accuse you of them either, because they’ve been forgiven.


Because your sins die in the ears or your Pastor, your Pastor will never judge you either. Those sins you confess are put to death with Jesus – they’re buried in tomb where the Father never looks. And if God lets them go, your Pastor must let them go as well – and that’s why your Pastor will never speak of them again in any circumstance or for any reason.


And know this for certain before you come to confession, either privately or the general confession in the Divine Service. God actually forgives sins. Coming and making confession is risky because you’re believing that God forgives sins through fallen men – “chamber pots” the Bible calls us Pastors. But that’s what the Bible says. Jesus said to his disciples, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained. So hear the words of forgiveness your Pastor speaks in the stead and by the command of Jesus, hear those words as Jesus very word to you and know that God forgives you your sins even if other people don’t – you have God’s promise on that.


And one more thing about this time. It’s going to hurt. That’s the wagging finger of the Law rightly condemning you! Let the Law of God cut you to the heart. Let the great physician of body and soul do His godly surgery on you. Let God do it even though it hurts because there’s a promise connected to it as well. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


Sometimes you feel better after Holy Absolution, and sometimes you don’t. You’re feelings don’t make what we’re doing valid. What your Pastor says to you isn’t so much about your feelings as it is about the truth of what God has done for you. No matter what you feel, know this for certain, the death of Jesus on the cross has covered all your sins and Holy Absolution is about assuring you of this great gift.


Yours in Christ,


Pastor Hodel

 
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