Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Today is a very special day for us as we have the confirmation of 23 of our young people who have been preparing themselves over the past 8 months to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ and the cost involved in it.
Today, they will make a public proclamation that they have indeed accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and would be willing to take up the cross, deny themselves and follow him daily.
They will make their own solemn promises that they would pray and read the Bible regularly and grow in the knowledge of Jesus and discern his will for their lives. According to their promises they would strive to live a life of joyful obedience to God and of love and care of others.
Today is also a special day because immediately after the service we have our annual fete where the whole church has come together as a team in order to have a great time of fun and fellowship and raise funds for our projects.
The promises that these confirmation candidates make before God and you their witnesses today cannot be fulfilled by their own strength. In the Old Testament reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel the Lord says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you, your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
God has promised to give a new heart and a new Spirit to those who put their trust in Jesus. It is only through the transformation of the heart that we will be able to follow Jesus faithfully. The transformation of the heart is the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
In the Epistle reading taken from the letter to the Romans, Paul reminds us that if the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells within us then, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwells in us.
Therefore, we are to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. We are called to put to death the deeds of the body through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the same Holy Spirit who bears witness that we are the children of God. We are called to mortify our sinful self and live a life of honesty, integrity and holiness.
In the Gospel reading Jesus tells them that if the disciples loved him they would keep his commandments. Obedience is the mark of a disciple. Many a times we know what is right but we do not do what is right because of sin living in us.
We are however promised the presence of the Holy Spirit to be with us and strengthen us. Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
The term ‘Advocate’ which Jesus gave to the Holy Spirit is a very appropriate term. An advocate pleads our case before a judge and makes us appear in good light. Similarly, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us on our behalf before the Father. He is also the Sprit of truth because the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and holiness. The world is oblivious to the Holy Spirit because it cannot see him nor does it know him. However, the Holy Spirit resides with every believer.
As these young people come forward and the Bishop lays his hand on them praying for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, may we too pray that God would not only anoint them but anoint each one of us afresh this morning so that we too would be empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit transformed twelve ordinary people that the gospel has reached the ends of the world.
We pray that these 23 young people may truly be used by God to bring about transformation in our world.