A Confirmation Day Sermon (Easter 6) - John 14:15-21
You know Jesus, in part. That has been the goal anyways. Dawson, Maddie and Jayden – that was what we set out to do this year, if you remember. I said last fall that I am sure you might only remember one percent of what I teach you, but my hope has been that one percent to be comprised of your Jesus. A Jesus who has loved you by coming to you. A Jesus who has spoken to you in giving you the commandment to come to him in all things, in all ways, be covered by his blood to give you life and to offer you up as a sweet-smelling offering to the Father and to the world. That has been the goal. I expect that it is a goal we will have together for the rest of our lives.
As we set out this confirmation year, we began with the Bible. We started with creation and worked our way through the Scriptures, finding the crimson thread, as it is called, which is Jesus. We talked about the work of God calling Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans to the promised land. Not saying specifically where, or that it will be a place he knows well, but a new place and a long journey that is by faith in this God who calls you. We looked at it as it connects to your baptism, which you will be affirming today.
We looked at the Psalms and read many of them. Talking about as you walk this life of trusting in God above all things, the Psalms are there as your prayerbook. A place in which every prayer under the sun can be found. A place where God has had no problem with people being mad at him for this thing or that. He’s a big boy, he can handle it. A place where Psalms of thanksgiving give us words to express our gratefulness for his love and care. Psalms of praise to give God the glory for all he does because of all we can’t.
We looked at the different prophets to see how this Jesus of Nazareth, the one who beckons to you each time the Scriptures are opened, was testified about long before he came. That salvation and resurrection, the promises of God show up in the places we think him not to be. Speaking through some Jewish prophet in the 6th century BC, we have this Jesus made known as Gospel, as a refuge for you in times of trouble and fear, in times you need to know the forgiveness of sin and the compassion of God.
We looked at the different Gospels and to whom and how they were written. How Jesus, this Jesus who has come for you, is given to you and to us as the church in so many ways that we can’t say - “he isn’t for me.”
We looked at the letters of Paul, and how this Jesus was preached to various churches that you might be able to know who this guy was who defeated the law, according to Galatians. Who emptied himself of all things to capture for himself – you, according to Philippians. How in Romans we have the disclosure of all that the Lutheran church holds dear. The salvation by faith. The promises that we have died in Christ and been raised through him in Baptism. How God works together for good for you in Jesus.
In Lent we had the task of trying to answer what the heck Jesus has to do with Lent. Oh, did you answer.
One of you said: Jesus has to do with Lent because he dies for our sins. He dies so all of us sinners can live.
Another: Jesus had to die for our sins.
Another said: We choose to give up something for Lent because Jesus gave up food and water for 40 days. So I don’t have anything else to say, so I’m going to keep typing to fill in words.
Oh wait. I shouldn’t have included that last bit.
What I hear from this, though, is that Jesus has become the focus. That is good. That is the Sunday School answer at least. To know that Jesus is the answer is the first step. Then to take the time and to search out what this Jesus means for the question is the next step. My hope is that what we began this year is the beginning of your investigating and discovering this God of mercy and faithfulness who is yours. Freely.
Paul made it his goal to tell the Athenians of this Unknown god. The people of Athens had altars and idols for every god under the sun, and in this portion of Acts we see that they needed to cover their bases. There could be a god we forgot so let us build another altar to the Unknown god. Paul jumps on that and says – let me tell you of the one unknown to you. A Creator God. A God who gives. A living God who works life even in death. A God who brings resurrection. That was where he lost the Athenians - resurrection. I hope that isn’t where I have lost you. For the hope of the resurrection, of life out of death, is what we have as our sure and certain promise and gift in Christ. That is what I hope continues to bring you back to this place. To hear of this Jesus, God made flesh, for your sake.
This knowledge of Jesus, this work of the Spirit in your hearts and souls becomes the work to give you a reason. A reason for the hope that lies within you, as Peter calls it. A hope built on Baptism. Where in your baptism you were drowned, dead and buried in Christ, but God raised you up into newness of life. The world can’t offer you that. The world can’t help you deal with all of life’s pains and heartaches. But Jesus can. I can say that because he already has done it. All of the burdens you will bear; all of the suffering that will come as we have to deal with a mortal world, have been vanquished through the waters of baptism, through the body and blood of Christ.
That is why Confirmation is not a graduation from church. It is only another step in the journey of faith. It is another place for you to have as an opportunity to know your Lord better. To know the fruit of this gospel better. To know that church exists not to bore you but to give you what the world cannot – Jesus. That is what this place is for. To hear the words of the Gospel, to live them out in the company of other baptized sinners who struggle in all the ways you do and will. To know that you can sit and have coffee with Gil, or Jan, or Cathie, or Phyllis, or Dwayne, and hear them tell you about how God has been faithful to them through Jesus.
What we do today is have you reaffirm what you were given at your baptism. So that you leave this place not as ones’ who have no need of God or church anymore, but as ones’ who know their need for God and the people here. To the need of Christ to bring you the Advocate, the Spirit that will guide you into all truth, sharing with you who Jesus is for you. Who God has been for you. What the church shall be for you as you grow older and join the ranks of seasoned Christians.
As always I ask God’s mercy be upon you. My beloved brother and sisters. You are my joy and my crown this day. Thanks be to God. Amen