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Easter 5 2021 – Confirmation Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
May 2, 2021

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            When camping with my family as a boy I liked to whittle on sticks with my pocket knife.  I thought this was great fun, but my mother would cringe and start calculating the distance to the nearest emergency room.  Apparently I had a tendency to cut my fingers…badly.  Many times the doctors needed to stitch my fingertips back together, but somehow I made it to adulthood with all ten fingers scarred but intact.

            What would you do if you did actually cut off one of your fingers?  With my extensive first aid knowledge gleaned from television ambulance dramas I think you are supposed to find the missing digit, pack it in ice and send it with the patient so the doctors can hopefully reattach it.  If the finger cannot be reattached it will die; it is no use without being attached to the body.  The body gives the finger life.  How deadly foolish it would be for a finger to say to the rest of the body, “I don’t need you.  I’ll be better off on my own?”

            After a storm I walk around my yard and collect dead branches lying under the trees.  Attached to the tree they were full of life.  Now they are dead and only good to be thrown into the fire.  Imagine for a moment a branch rebelling against its tree saying, “I don’t need you.  I will be better off on my own.”  It is utterly self-destructive. 

            John 15:5–6 (ESV) 5 [Jesus said] I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 

            In baptism you are grafted into the vine of Christ. You are made a part of His Body, the Church.  You abide in Christ and He abides in you.  Christ Jesus lives in you.  His life flows into you and gives you life.  In the Church, the Body of Christ, you receive forgiveness of sins through the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Jesus.  You in Christ, Christ in you, you have life. 

            Today at the 11 AM service we will baptize the three Johnson children; sealing them as branches of the vine of Christ renouncing the devil and all his works and all his ways and declaring faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  At the 8 AM service four of our young men will confirm what was spoken for them at their baptisms renouncing the devil and declaring faith in the true God.  They will also pledge to remain in Christ and Christ in them.  They will pledge to hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully.  They will pledge to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, even to death.  They will pledge to remain steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it.  They will promise to remain in Christ and Christ in them.  Because they know they need Jesus.  They know that in Christ there is life; without Christ is only death. 

Like blood flowing to your extremities, like sap flowing through vine and branches, Jesus’ love and forgiveness flows into you and then from you to others through your good works.  Because you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you bear the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)  22 … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; …. 

            You know that you need Jesus.  Each day remember your baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and renew your vows to remain in Christ and Christ in you.  Because you need Jesus. 

            Jesus is life.  Without Jesus is death.  And yet there is an aching temptation to want to be independent.  The devil wants to separate you from the vine.  He wants you to think you don’t need Jesus; that you can be free from Jesus, that you can go it alone.  He wants you to let the busyness of daily life choke out life in Christ and to separate from His Body, the Church.  The devil wants you to give up the Church.  The devil wants to push you to declare, “I don’t need forgiveness.  I don’t need the Church.  I don’t need your organized religion.”  But that is like a finger saying to the body, “I don’t need you.” That is like the branch saying to the tree, “I don’t need you.”  Independence equals death.  You are fully dependent on Jesus.  

Like blood flowing to your extremities, like sap flowing through vine and branches, Jesus’ love and forgiveness flows into you and then from you to others through your good works.  Because you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you bear the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)  22 … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; …. 

Alive in Christ, you bear the fruit of the Spirit in love for your neighbor even as you continue to struggle with temptation to selfish sin.  Life in this fallen world is a struggle.  Life in Christ is not the promise of an easy life, a pain free life, a life without trouble or hardship.  Abiding in Christ and Christ in you, as a branch in the vine, God prunes you to clean you from sin and make you more fruitful.  With Christ in you; with your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit the Lord works in you to cut sin out of your life.  God prunes you to help you to battle sin in your thoughts before they become sinful words and deeds that harm your neighbor and that the devil can try to hold against you.  This pruning hurts and it is an ongoing process which continues until the day you die. You live in the paradox of being, at the same time, a Saint declared holy by God because of Jesus, and a sinner who struggles with the devil, the world and your own sinful desires.  You are already declared fully clean because you are in Christ and Christ is in you, and God continues to prune and cleanse you of your sin.  Pruning can be painful as sin is cut out of your life in this ongoing cleansing but it is God’s work in your life to make you more fully live out who you are in Christ in love for God and love for your neighbor. 

Alive in Christ or dead apart from Christ.  There are only two categories.  You in Christ and Christ in you, you are alive forever.  Apart from Christ you are dead and destined for eternal fire.  You cannot live apart from Jesus. 

Jesus is the vine.  You are the branches.  Remain in Jesus.  Amen. 

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