The Third Sunday of Easter
Grace, mercy, and peace from our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.”
We were all adopted as God’s children in our baptism. Most of us were very young so our parents and sponsors or godparents made promises for us. They promised to live with us among God’s people.
They promised to bring us to worship so that we can hear the Word of God and share in the sacrament of Holy Communion. They promised to teach us the 10 commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed.
They promised to place the Bible in our hands. They promised to pray for us and to bring us up in the faith of the church.
On our behalf, they proclaimed their faith using the Apostles creed, the creed the church has always used for baptisms. They said they believed in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They renounced sin, the devil, and all things that rebel against God.
Then we were sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. We were no longer just our parents’ children, we became God’s children. Parents, is that something you thought about when you brought your children (Kinzie and Trey) for baptism? Did you think you were giving them up for adoption? Because you were. That is exactly what we do as parents when we bring our children to the baptismal font. We give them up to God.
Actually, we acknowledge that they always did belong to God. It is good for us to stand up and publicly say it though. We need to remember that we don’t own our children. We need to remember that they belong to God. One of my favorite quotes is from Billy Graham. He said God doesn’t have grandchildren, God only has children.
God allows the church the privilege of having children to raise and to love and to nurture. There is a blessing in Psalm 128: “May you live to see your children’s children.” Some of you are here today to see your grandchildren confirm their faith. I don’t have to tell you. You already know are richly blessed to have this privilege. You have been a strong influence on them as they grew in Christ. This community of faith thanks you for your witness.
When we say we are God’s children, we don’t mean we remain God’s little kids. We just mean we are sons and daughters. Affirmation of baptism is a time when we mark the passage from being a child to being an adult in the faith.
Kinzie and Trey are affirming their baptism tomorrow/today. When young people do this for the first time, the church calls it confirmation. They wear white robes reminding us of the white robes of baptism.
The white stands for the forgiveness of sins and the purity of Christ. The symbol on the robe is a dove, because the Holy Spirit came in the form of a dove at the Baptism of Jesus and we receive the Holy Spirit in baptism.
Confirmation has picked up many meanings throughout the years, some of them inaccurate. First, let me tell you what confirmation is not. It is not a graduation. In no way does it mean that someone has learned all they need to know about the Bible and the faith of the church. One sign of adulthood is knowing what you don’t know and seeking to learn more.
Confirmation does not mean that your parents can take a break from driving you to church now. It also doesn’t mean you get a few cards and presents, although you will.
Confirmation does mean that Trey and Kinzie are making the promises of baptism for themselves. They are taking on the adult responsibility of being a son and daughter of God. The promises their parents and sponsors made are now their own promises. These promises are very serious business and require a certain level of maturity.
It takes maturity to say you are going to make your life among God’s faithful people. When we make that promise, we are saying what kind of people we will hang out with for the rest of our lives. We are promising to be an active member of this community of believers.
On the surface, that may not sound too hard. Christians are supposed to be nice, right? But those of us who have been surrounded by church people our whole lives can tell you that we can be just as sinful and as hard to get along with as everybody else. In our best moments we Christians recognize our own sinfulness and we forgive each other.
It takes maturity to be the one to take responsibility for hearing God’s word and sharing in the Lord’s Supper. We all know how easy it is to sleep in on Sunday and just think maybe you will go to church next week. Next week can turn into next Christmas and next Easter and next year all too easily. We rejoice today that Trey and Kinzie are promising to regularly hear the Word and share the meal with us.
It takes maturity to proclaim the good news of Christ through your words and deeds. It is often difficult for us shy Lutherans to speak of our faith. Proclaiming the good news through our actions sometimes requires difficult decisions too. We rejoice that Kinzie and Trey are promising to do this and we promise to be there for them as support.
It takes maturity to promise to serve all people and follow the example of Jesus. When you make this promise as an adult son and daughter of God, you ask a different question than you used to ask when you were a child. You used to ask, “what will my parents think?” or “will I get caught?” Now, you will ask, “Does this hurt other people or help them?” and “what would Jesus do?”
And finally, Trey and Kinzie will be promising to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. We all want world peace. We all want freedom and justice for all people.
We aren’t asking a couple of fourteen-year-olds to promise bring it about on their own. We are asking them to promise to work with anyone who is working for justice and peace and to support those causes.
This all sounds pretty scary and pretty impossible for a couple of young people no matter how mature they are. But there is very good news here. The whole congregation promises to support you and pray for you in your life in Christ.
And there is even better news. Remember what you each say when you make the promise? You each say, “I do, and I ask God to help and guide me.” God is always there to help us and guide us. We know we are sinners and no matter how hard we try, we will at times, fall short of keeping our promises to God.
But God is always faithful. God never goes back on a promise. Kinzie’s confirmation verse reminds us that God has appointed a season and time for everything. Today is the season and time to confirm your faith.
Trey’s confirmation verse reminds us that Christ promises to be with us always, even to the end of everything.
Kinzie and Trey, you are God’s children now; what you will be has not yet been revealed. We rejoice that God has appointed this season and time for you to publicly confess your faith in our risen Lord Jesus Christ. We remember that Christ promises to be with you and with us always.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!