Monday, June 13, 2011
Confirmation Is Not Graduation From Church!
Today we get to witness something really special.
We get to see these four young people confirm the vows that their parents made at their baptism.
We get to be witnesses to the Holy Spirit descending like fire on each of these fine young people.
Some of you who are here today saw them be baptized.
Some of you were the ones who stood up and said that you would make sure that they got to this moment.
You said that they would learn the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, that they would learn the Bible stories, and they would come and worship among God’s faithful people.
I know that the parents of these four young people took the promises they made very seriously.
We should congratulate them on getting their kids to this point.
Today I would like to talk about some of the things that might be said along the journey to this moment.
Here is what happens.
Somewhere between fifth grade and seventh grade church becomes boring.
Kids begin to find their own voice and begin to rebel against coming to church.
Most Sunday mornings becomes a battle between parents and their kids.
I can say this because this was how it was in my house growing up.
And parents being responsible say something like this, “You have to go to church until you are confirmed and then it is your choice.”
Let me say I don’t think this is the wrong thing to say.
The sentiment behind it is correct.
Parents made a promise to get their kids to this point.
This morning I want to say to Elena, Rene, Ben, and Ben that after today it is not your choice anymore.
This is your last chance to run for the door and to say “no”.
Because confirmation is not graduation from Church!
In fact: let me hear all of us say that together.
Confirmation is not graduation from church!
I have gotten to know these four young people over the last two years.
I want you all to know that they are extraordinary people.
God made them each unique and gifted.
As we heard St. Paul tell us this morning we are all “given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Each one of these young people has something special to add to the body of Christ.
Take Rene for example.
Rene cares about the world deeply.
He thinks about issues of justice.
He thinks about the people who are left out.
Rene supports causes like fair trade and gay rights.
He cares about the world.
That is a passion that we need in the body of Christ.
Take Ben Wirth for example.
Ben has energy.
He likes people and is passionate about the people he meets in the wider church.
Ben this year went to the synod assembly with me and he was so happy to build relationships with other people from other congregations.
Ben is extremely active and brings energy and life to everything he is involved in.
Isn’t that something that we need in our church?
Take Elena for example.
First of all Elena knows the Bible better than I do.
When we need a Bible verse Elena is right there with it.
She is dedicated and determined.
She wins the award for the best attendance, but more then this Elena brought her love of the God into everything she did.
Don’t we need that in the Body of Christ?
Take Ben Maurer for example.
Ben came here a year ago, but he managed to fit right in with everyone.
I was grateful for Ben because he was often the person doing exactly what he was suppose to be doing.
He was the calm amidst the storm.
He is steady and dependable.
Don’t we need that in our church?
Each one of the young people today picked a Bible verse to be their confirmation Bible Verse.
I have written them down.
I would like them to hold them and one parent to come forward.
Would the parent please read their child’s verse one at a time.
What was amazing about this process was that each young person picked a verse that I thought really suited them well.
It was a real Holy Spirit moment.
And today is a real Holy Spirit day.
It is filled with a rushing wind, fire, and a sense that anything with God is possible.
I hope that you all will remember your confirmation verse and carry it with you in your life.
That you will remember this day as the day when you felt the Holy Spirit and were blown away with the wonder and awesomeness of God.
I hope you will remember this day as a beginning in your faith journey.
Today is the beginning of you taking even more seriously your commitment to God.
Because confirmation is not graduation from Church!
Imagine if after having been given the Holy Spirit by Jesus the disciples stayed in that lock room.
Jesus died on a cross, rose from the dead, and gave his followers the power to go out and live as a child of God.
How can we waste such a precious gift?
The truth is that all of us everyday affirm our baptism.
Every day we go out into the world and live as disciples of Jesus we are saying to the world were our priorities are.
Because all of you who were confirmed years ago that was not graduation from Church for you either.
It was just the start of something even greater.
I want to say one more thing this morning.
After the Holy Spirit comes over the crowd on that first Pentecost Peter gives a sermon and he uses as his texts the prophet Joel.
He talks about how the young will see visions and the old will dream dreams.
He talks about sons and daughters prophesying.
In other words all the people gathered there were going to be needed to accomplish the work of the church.
Confirmation is not graduation from Church.
It is important for all of us to remember that.
Because I think that sometimes congregations expect that young people will simply go away after confirmation.
I don’t expect that at all.
I expect that these four young people will use those gifts and passions to grow the church.
I expect that they will change the church.
I think that we as members with them in the Body of Christ have to respect them.
We have to be willing to listen to what they say even when it is not what we think.
Our young people are prophesying to us all the time and often we don’t listen and simply dismiss is as foolishness.
The church has to be a place where we all come together for something greater then ourselves and that means listening to the next generation.
These young people need our support because they will not get it out in the world.
It is not like when I was a boy.
All my friends went to church.
That is not so anymore.
These young people are going to have a hard enough time trying to maintain their faith in a world that says that faith is for the foolish and the week.
We need to be there to tell them that this is there church to explore to prophesy, to see visions of the way the world can be.
And we old people can dream dreams with them of what God will and can do.
Confirmation is not graduation for us either.
We are not done with these young people.
We are excited to have them as our brothers and sisters in Christ as we are led by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work in the world.
Let us go forth led by the Holy Spirit to call on the name of the Lord so we might be saved.