Tuesday, May 29, 2012

En Theos!

Every confirmation class I have ever taught has its own personality.
Not just the individuals but the whole class usually develops some kind of unique traits or qualities.
For this class I could use one word to describe them it would be enthusiasm.
Every class these three young men came to class with lots of energy and enthusiasm.
We spend the first year of confirmation learning in depth about the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s prayers, The Sacraments, The Bible, and Lutheran History.
I spend most of the day before our class at thinking about ways to teach these things in ways that would use their energy and enthusiasm.
We played lots of games together.
(In fact, last night at after our rehearsal for today we went out and played a game together. How fitting.)
Like the time that we tied a bucket to our legs and had to run through the church in the fastest time possible.
(I am just glad that the Christ candle and Baptismal font are still in one piece.)
Anyway we had lots of fun together.
Our Second year of confirmation is about learning about the Church community.
It is about learning what happens in the Church.
How are we going to serve God and our neighbors after confirmation?
So in the second year we spend most of the time experiencing Church life.
(Because as all of you know by now confirmation is not graduation from Church!)
In the second year, we don’t have as many classes.
And one of the students came up to me and said, “Pastor when are we going to have more classes? I really miss them.”
That has never happened to me in my almost ten years of teaching confirmation.
These three young men liked confirmation.
They liked being together.
They like to have fun.
They are enthusiastic.

This morning I had them walk in with signs that had the word, “En Theos” at the top of it.
Did you know that the English word Enthusiasm comes from these Greek words.
En theos literally means, “In the Spirit”.
These young men have been in the spirit.
This morning we all gather to1gether with them to witness this moment of their confirmation.
We can all be enthusiastic together.
We can all be en theos.

I am sure that on that first Pentecost with all the disciples gathered together they felt enthusiasm for what God was going to do in their lives.
Peter feels so en theos that he gets up and delivers a sermon.
Peter witnesses to his faith.
And for Corey, Daniel, and Tyler I hope that for the rest of your days you remain enthusiastic about the Church, about your faith, and about serving God.

Confirmation is not the end of our knowledge of God.
In fact, it is only the surface the beginning of what we need to learn about God.
Think about our Gospel lesson for this morning.
Jesus is going to die.
He knows this and has told his disciples that he is going away.
It would be nice to think that Jesus told them everything they would need to know.
But this morning he tells them that he hasn’t.
“There are many more things I would like to tell you. But you cannot bear them now.”
I always feel this way about confirmation classes that I teach.
There are so many more things to say about God and faith.
In our two years together we have only scratched the surface together.
The Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer are only the beginning.
Consider that we only spent about two classes talking about the Biblical witness.
We could have spent the rest of your life talking about it, but I know that you cannot bear it all now.
In fact, my goals for confirmation are not to push a bunch of information into you.
It is not about merely filling young people’s minds with the right answers.
My goals are much more profound than merely passing on information.
It is to get you to know how special you are to God, and how much you mean to our congregation.
Part of what Church has to be about is having fun.
And I want that for you.
I know that at this point in your life you can’t bear it all now.
You are not ready for everything.

One of my favorite students from all the confirmation students I have had is Nikki Faison.
Nikki was “en theos” too.
She always asked the most challenging questions.
And on some occasions I had to ask her to calm down, and in one case I had to ask her to leave class.
Anyway, Nikki got confirmed.
A few years later she attended something called Pinecrest, which is a camp where high school kids go to learn about the Bible, theology, and all sorts of great things.
I can only compare it to Camp Calumet for me.
Anyway, Nikki was totally transformed by the experience.
She came back and was telling me about all the things she learned.
She said, “Pastor, why didn’t you tell us about this stuff in confirmation?”
I said, “Nikki I did you just didn’t listen then.”
She said, “Yeah, your right.”
She couldn’t bear it all then.
But in the spirit later she was ready.

This is why we need the Spirit.
This is why Jesus told his disciples he was going to send it.
The Spirit is what continues to teach us about Jesus and the Father.
The Spirit gives us the assurance of the resurrection promise.
The Spirit comforts us, encourages us, and sends us into the world.
Daniel, Corey, and Tyler may you continue to live en theos.
May you continue to have enthusiasm so that you might grow even deeper in your relationship with God.

There is so much more for you to experience and to know.
There are so many things ahead of you.
Graduating from high school, going to college, Falling in love, getting your first job, getting fired from your first job, learning to live on your own, getting married, buying a house, having kids of your own, growing old, and getting called home to the Lord, not only these big moments, but millions of smaller moments in between.
As you go through those times my hope is that you will continue to be tethered to God through the Holy Spirit.
That in those times you will learn God’s will for your life, God’s love for you and others.
Faith formation is a lifelong process.
It takes many twist and turn, many false starts.
But en theos can get you there.

The truth is that we often lose our enthusiasm for our faith.
It sometimes falls off or goes stale.
That enthusiasm for God and God’s people goes away.
But that is part of the Spirit’s work too.
It calls to us again and again.
And it will continue to call to the three of you.
Call you back en theos.

I have so enjoyed being with you on this part of your faith journey.
I have enjoyed your enthusiasm.
We are all going to enjoy watching to see what the Spirit will continue to do with your lives.
If you have learned nothing else in confirmation I hope you have learned that once God grabs a hold of us God never lets go.
May you continue to live enthusiastic lives connected to God through the Holy Spirit.

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