Ephesians 4:4-6 (NRSV) 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
God is amazing and this Sunday we will have a very special worship service. Sunday, June 4th, is Confirmation Sunday, it is Pentecost, it is the 7th Sunday in the Easter season and the week of the celebration of the Ascension of Jesus. WoW! AND it is also our Summer Kick-off Celebration with one worship service with a covered dish meal following the service. This Sunday’s service will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday School classes will begin the hour before at 9:30 a.m.
We will be confirming a group of young people who have been on a journey of learning, sharing and serving together over the past few months. They have known each other much longer than I have known them, but the faith of each one is deep, unique and inspiring. As our congregation prepares to celebrate this important moment with the Confirmands, I thought it might be helpful for all of us to refresh our memories of what confirmation is all about.
In our United Methodist tradition, children are baptized when they are infants. This is their entrance into the family of God. When a baby is baptized, it is his/her parents who make the vows of baptism. They profess their own faith in Christ and then promise to raise their child in the church so that one day the young person will “accept God’s grace” and “choose to lead a Christian life.” The congregation also takes a vow to help raise the child in the faith. One of the older liturgies in the church put it so beautifully saying we promised to “live a life that becomes the Gospel.” In other words, we promise to live out our faith with and in front of this child so that he or she will learn how much God loves them and they see what a life of discipleship looks like. Our United Methodist beliefs also encourage us to baptize any adults who were not baptized as infants whenever they can articulate their faith in Christ and wish to be baptized. We can baptize by any of three modes: sprinkling a little water, pouring a larger amount of water or fully immersing the person if the ability to do this is available. Since we are not saved by the water, the amount is symbolic. It must always be in the Trinitarian name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
A unique thing that will be happening this Sunday is that all four of the Confirmands will be baptized since they were not baptized as infants. So it is their time to publicly affirm their faith in Jesus Christ by affirming their faith in word (their vows) and deed (their baptisms).
As a congregation, we nurture and teach (and learn from!) the children around us, so they will fall in love with Christ and choose for themselves to become disciples of Jesus. When a person is ready to make that choice, to profess their faith openly and choose a life of following Jesus, they are confirmed as a Christian and as a member of the church. We call it “confirmation” because he is confirming the baptismal vows that may have been made on his behalf when he was too young to answer for himself. If they are baptized at Confirmation, it still represents the same belief: they are choosing for themselves, and they are choosing to follow Christ.
Being a Christian is a lifelong journey, and confirmation is one step on that journey. Confirmation is not a starting point, nor is it an ending point. It’s a step. But it’s a big step. And our whole congregation needs to join in the celebration of this moment together. I hope that you will be praying for these young people as they prepare for Sunday. Perhaps you could send them a card at church or bring a card on Sunday and welcome them into the church personally. To be in worship this Sunday to witness their vows, receive baptism and join the church gives you an opportunity to renew your own commitment to Christ and remember your baptism. God was present then and God is present now.
May we all celebrate what God has done and is doing in the lives of these young people and in the life of the church. God is amazing! And this Sunday promises to be amazing as well.
The following Sunday, June 11th, will be another different kind of service where both 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services will have a video celebration of the young people in our church who are graduating in one form or another. We have several high school graduates and one seminary student who will be taking an appointment in South Carolina, serving as a local pastor in the beginning of July. The next two Sundays should give you hope for the future, because remember – God is there as well. And God is Amazing!
- Pastor Jill