We have just celebrated our annual Confirmation service, also called the Affirmation of Baptism service. In our tradition, we baptize people of any age, which is consistent with our belief that Salvation is a gift which we cannot earn but can only receive. Some of the ways we bring this gift to life in us are through receiving Holy Baptism, by Affirming that Baptism when we are old enough to make our own decisions (the most recent research suggests that our brains are not fully functional until around the age of 26, so perhaps that should be our new age at which to be Confirmed), by receiving Holy Communion, and by hearing God’s Word and doing what it leads us to do.
A main point is that what we BELIEVE is readily SEEN AND HEARD in what we SAY and DO! So, the question that I want to ask is, “HOW ARE WE DOING?” In case you did not go through Lutheran Confirmation classes or your memory is a little hazy, this is pretty much what we learned to do and then promised to do on that day:
- We started out by saying that we recognize that evil exists in the world and its primary goal is to steer us away from God and not take our faith in God too seriously. For some reason, it is pretty easy to forget about the evil we can do and the fact that temptation ALWAYS seems like a good idea at the time. Also, it’s easy to forget that God will help us resist, but of course, lots of times we don’t want to resist.
- We promised to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the Word of God, and share in the Lord’s Supper. This just recognizes that living a faithful life is quite challenging at times and it really helps to stay connected to God and to have people around us who are supportive and understanding. Plus, worship, study, and fellowship can be fun and helpful.
- We promised to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed. As I mentioned above, our words and actions should communicate the absolutely wonderful news that ALL people are loved, valued, and forgiven. That means we need to work hard to see that individuals, our government, the health care industry, and other social systems care for and value ALL people.
- We promised to serve all people, following the example of Jesus. I don’t know too many people who will say that their goal in life is to SERVE, much less to serve ALL PEOPLE. But this is what we are to do and this is why everyone usually knows who the faithful Christians really are. Not because they get a lot of awards or are so “successful,” but because they are the people that you know that, whoever you are and whatever you’ve done, you can go and talk to them and they will listen, they will care, they will keep it confidential, and if they can, they will help!
- Finally, we promised to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. There has always been and, until Jesus comes again, there will always be injustice and strife. We are called to not accept this, but to work to change it. It is not enough to just work on our own selves! We are called to change it in OURSELVES and in SOCIETY. There are currently opportunities to do this on a global, national, state, local, and kitchen table-coffee shop level. So, the question is, “What are WE doing?”
Remember, we promised!
Pastor Dennis Niezwaag, October 2020