Day of Pentecost (Confirmation) 8 June 2014
(Numbers 11:24-30 Psalm 104 1 Corinthians 12:3-13 John 20:19-23)
“I Can do it Myself!”
“I can do it myself!” “I can do it myself!” How many times do parents hear that from their children? From small children it may be pouring milk from a gallon jug or tying one’s shoes. A little older, it may be staying home alone or running the lawn mower for the first time.
For a child getting older it is that movement of “I’m big enough,” “I’m old enough,” “I’m mature enough” to do this on my own. “It’s okay Mom and Dad, I can do it myself!”
So today we celebrate the Affirmation of Baptism with seven of our ninth grade students. This is the day they are saying to all of us: “I can do it myself!” “I’m big enough,” “I’m old enough,” I’m mature enough” to make these promises that my parents made for me at Baptism when I was a baby.” “Today I can do it myself.”
During the past several weeks, I’ve met with each of the students to be confirmed this morning. In these “meetings” I’ve asked two questions where I’ve paid very close attention to the answers:
1.) What does Confirmation mean to you?
Here are a few of the answers:
After I am confirmed…I will always know I am part of something bigger (church)…I’ll always have a connection…a place where people respect me.…I will be accepted (big theme!)..…continuation of a life of faith…knowing I am important…I now make the decision made for me at Baptism.
2.) What was most helpful to you these past three years?
Over and over again I heard that the retreats were most important-fun, but also good times for learning and growing closer as a class, especially since they may not necessarily run in the same crowd at school…..making breakfast for C.A.R.E.S. was also at the top of the list.
The topic of bullying in 7th grade; the trip to Washington, being with the homeless in 8th grade; and in 9th grade, the snow, the sledding, at Nawakwa, and getting a deeper understanding of why we are here today.
Words like: maturity, responsibility, helping others, adulthood–kept appearing in the answers I was hearing.
As I tried to assimilate what I was hearing, I kept coming back to how important “relationship” and “being connected” are for these young people. I know these were recurring themes over the past two years.
And I really think this class “gets it” that what brings us together has been our Baptism—relationship with Christ, with each other—which is why today is so important—now they can make their promises themselves.
But, I want to ask everyone of you: are these not also the very same values that are so important to all of us? The voices of this confirmation class are our voices! Much of what I hear from this class verbalizes a real longing for some of the most important issues that have to do with “being the church together.”
The Gospel reading where, on the day of his rising from the grave, the place Jesus wants to go, the people he wants to be with, are the ones who knew him best, the ones he spent three years with. So even locked doors can’t keep Jesus from being with his closest friends.
The reading from the Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is about bringing together the gifts we each share. It is about using our gifts to hold us together, not tear us apart; using our gifts is all about reaching out, reaching across the aisle; it’s about connecting and being in relationship with all others —all under the power of the Spirit.
Paul is struggling with a community that is having a hard time getting along with each other. At various places, Paul goes to great pains to insist that this outpouring of the Spirit is not something to be held inside of oneself.
We celebrate today a new wind is set loose upon the earth, provoking a storm of confusion for some and a fresh breath of hope and empowerment for others.
In his book, The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, writing for a young audience, says: “Perhaps the greatest sign of hope [for the church] is the emergence of a new generation of Christians eager and ready to take their faith into the world. The Christianity of private piety, affluence and conforming to all the rules has put the young generation of Christians to sleep. Defining faith by the things you’re not allowed to do, does not create an exciting style of life. A new generation of young people is hungry for an agenda worthy of its commitment, its energy, and its gifts.”
In a few minutes we will list the promises/affirmations made for you by someone else when you were baptized. I ask you to listen to them carefully because these affirmations will direct your life for the rest of your lives.
You then have the opportunity to stand tall and speak out with a confident voice “I do, and I ask God to help and guide me.” Yes, Confirmation class of 2014, today you can do it yourself. We put our trust in you! We are proud of you!
But please also know, we also promise to still be close by, to walk together alongside you, so together we can “live and love like Jesus.” We are the church together. Amen.