The “C” Word
Today is not only the Day of Pentecost.
For us here at Grace Lutheran and in many Lutheran churches, it is Confirmation Day.
Lately, I have stopped using the word Confirmation and have started using the actual term found in our hymnals.
Today is the Affirmation of Baptism for 6 of our young people.
But for many in the Lutheran church, this is not a day of Affirmation.
This is not a day of celebration.
This is a day of “Whew! Thank GOD that’s over!”
Why is that?
I believe our Christian culture has “Commitment” issues.
We are not committed to learning about our Faith.
To learn about the faith takes a lot of time and energy.
And for many Christians, time is more an enemy than an ally.
I also believe our Christian Culture has a “Question” issue, as in we do not know how to answer the questions that every generation has asked:
“Why do I have to go to church?” &
“Why do I have to go to Confirmation?”
For too long the answer was, “Because I had to do it when I was your age.”
Well, that answer doesn’t work anymore.
We live in a different world.
We live in a world where at the touch of a button we can find answers, but we also can find the ugly truth.
In our world, it is hard to lie and get away with it.
From politicians to movie stars to church leaders, people can find out the truth.
People don’t take things at face value anymore.
You have to prove yourself.
And the same goes for the Church.
We cannot just tell a young person, “Come to church…or else!”
We cannot expect young people to run to church with a “Because it’s been our way for a long time” reason.
We need to be able to tell the Story of God.
We need to be able to tell OUR Story of what God has done for us.
Parents and grandparents, was the last time you talked about YOUR faith with your children or grandchildren?
When did you share with them how and why you are a Christian?
THOSE are the stories we need to be telling.
THOSE are the stories that lead to better answers.
THOSE are the stories that can lead to commitments.
Speaking of Commitment,
Today we focus on Promise.
In the movie Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, near the end of the film, Frodo Baggins is sailing off to Mordor to face the enemy on his own.
He is already in the boat and sailing away when his friend, Samwise Gamgee, starts walking into the river, determined not to let Frodo go on the journey alone.
Unfortunately, Sam can’t swim!
And he starts to drown.
But Frodo saves him, and then asks Sam why he would RISK drowning,
And Sam says, “I made a promise, Mr Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”
So when a child asks, “Why do I have to go to confirmation?”
We can answer: “Because when you were baptized, I made a promise. And I don’t mean to break it.”
Or when a child asks, “Why do I have to go to church?” we can say:
“Because I want you to learn about this awesome God that has shaped MY life…and I want God to shape yours!”
Affirmation of Baptism is the next chapter in our baptismal lives.
Our lives began at our Baptism, where we heard the promises of love, grace, forgiveness, and salvation that God made to us.
The promises that God has kept.
At our baptisms, our parents, guardians, and church families made promises to surround us with the Word, with a Community, and with love: The important factors that help raise children up in a Christian environment.
The promises made at baptism are now brought back today.
And now it is the children who make those promises.
To me, it is our version of the Altar Call.
The questions asked and answered by parents, guardians, and church members at these children’s baptisms return and now are answered by the children themselves.
I say children but I really should say young adults.
Because over the last 2-3 years I have seen them grow.
I have seen them learn.
I have seen them tell their stories.
I have seen:
Ticer teach us not only how to spell “Luke” “L-U-C-K” but also how to read, to study, and ask the hard questions.
Danny, who knows more about St. Paul than anyone I know, and who always greets me with a smile and the latest Star Wars news.
Nicholas, who has been a constant presence in my life since I got here, and who is always ready to be the acolyte at a moments notice, and we still have to see Godzilla together!
Then there are Isis, Tamia, and Naomi who have grown over the last two years.
Seriously, they all have grown at least 5 inches since they first stepped foot in this church.
But these three young ladies have brought a spark to our group.
And I have been a witness to God in action by watching these young people:
They way they work with one another,
The way they joke with one another, support one another,
And the way they are ready to help here at the church and in the community.
They are telling their stores, and in that way, they are telling God’s story.
Today, they add another chapter to their stories by affirming their baptisms.
By saying “yes” to the promises God has made and has kept.
And we are so blessed to be witnesses.
And today we continue with our promises.
We continue to watch, to help, to pray, to support, to challenge these young people.
Today is not an ending.
It is a continuing.
A continuing of a life-long journey we call Faith.