Luke and Amber: Today’s message is for you. (But I hope that you won’t mind my inviting everyone else to listen in.)
This year, we switched the day when young people are confirmed at Living Water to Pentecost. It was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ first disciples and empowered Christ’s Church to live in the freedom of forgiven sin and life with God and without embarrassment, to tell the whole world about Jesus.
This then, seems like a great day for instructed folks to be confirmed for several reasons.
One reason is that Confirmation is also called Affirmation of Baptism. And Baptism is when the Holy Spirit came to you, Amber and Luke!
Holy Baptism is a big deal!
Contrary to the lousy translation of 1 Peter 3:21 that appears in the New International Version, the version in our sanctuary Bibles, the Bible says that “baptism...saves you” [ESV].
In Baptism in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are saved from sin and death, our old sinful selves drowned in the waters of the baptismal font.
But our sinful selves are our inner zombies that, until we pass from life on this earth, will continue trying to pull us away from God. The devil, the world, and our sinful inner selves try to tell us that God is a wet blanket instead of our best Friend, that what we think of as “little sins” (though to God, every sin is equally horrible) are no big deal, and that you just need to be a nice person to get into heaven. Know this, Luke and Amber: Those are all lies and if we believe them, they will take away our eternal lives with God.
Thank God for your baptism!
It gives you a leg up in telling the devil, the world, and your inner sin self to get lost.
But today, and every day of your life, you have a decision to make: Will you rely on the God Who came to you in your Baptism or will you rely on those voices that urge you to break loose of God?
It all comes down to who you trust, the God you know in Jesus, or the voices, the people, and the world that oppose God.
Jesus says: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Today, you publicly affirm your desire to live your whole life and all eternity in the covenant of love God made with you in Holy Baptism.
There’s another good reason for having Confirmation on Pentecost Sunday. It’s only through the power of God’s Holy Spirit that we’re even capable of believing in Jesus.
We live in a bad news world--people treating each other horribly, wars, terrorists, and power plays. And that’s just the behavior displayed by little kids on elementary school playgrounds!
In a world filled with horrible news, it’s hard to believe in the good news that everyone who turns from their sin and believes in Jesus, God in human flesh who died and rose, can give us forgiveness, hope, purpose, and new and everlasting life.
The most we can do is say is, “Lord, I’m willing to believe.”
And you know what? God answers prayers like that.
1 Corinthians 12:3 tells us: “...no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”
Amber and Luke, if you authentically want to affirm your baptism today and follow Jesus as you move into adulthood, the Holy Spirit will supply you with the faith you need every moment you live.
Today, Luke and Amber, and all of us who will confess God in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, resolve to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”
Trust Him even when trusting is hard or life is hard because it’s exactly at these moments, when our faith runs into roadblocks we can't overcome that Jesus takes us by the hand and God's Holy Spirit builds up our faith the most! Amen
[Blogger Mark Daniels is the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church, Centerville, Ohio.]