Sunday, June 4, 2016

Pentecost A

Acts 2:1–21

 

A LETTER TO THE CONFIRMANDS

 

Dear Izzie and Logan,

 

Congratulations on your Confirmation. We are glad that you are affirming your baptism this day and becoming adult members of the congregation. Sorry, Logan, you did not make history by being the first confirmand to be held back. That does not mean Pat Christiansen and I would not have enjoyed having you and Izzie in class for another year. It has been a pleasure to have both of you in the Confirmation program.

 

As you begin your lives as adult members of the church, I would like to share four high hopes I have for you. The first hope is that you will never forget that you are a beloved baptized child of God. When Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven announced, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  When each of you was brought by your parents to the baptismal font, God announced to the whole world, in effect, “This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.” Neither of you chose to be baptized—it was a gift your parents brought you to church to receive. Today as you affirm your baptism, you are saying, to put it in plain English, “Yes, I am glad I was baptized, and I want to continue to live as a beloved child of God.” Izzie, I was encouraged when I read in your statement of faith, “I believe that God is real and that his love is unconditional and everlasting for each and every life and creation of his.” You get how beloved by God you are. You also get how much God loves all that God has created. Logan, I was encouraged when I read in your statement of faith that “God loves us no matter what.” We may not always act in ways that are pleasing to God, but that does not mean God stops loving us. Virtually everything in life can be taken from us. But no one can ever take away your identity as a beloved baptized child of God.

 

A second high hope I have for both of you is that you will continue to grow in your faith. At times in the church Confirmation has been viewed as a kind of graduation ceremony. It was as if confirmands were graduating from Sunday School and formal education in the church. We believe that baptism is a two part process. The first part was the event at the font when your parents brought you to be baptized. The second part is a lifelong process of learning and growing in our relationship to God, Jesus, our fellow human beings, and our fellow creatures. None of us ever know everything we need to know about God and God’s world. By affirming your baptism today, you are committing yourself to that lifelong process of growing in your faith in God and love toward all that God has made.

 

A third high hope is that you will dreams some dreams and see visions on behalf of God and God’s people. On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit gathered together an amazing diversity of people from every nation under heaven. Acts 2:17 highlights the pouring out of the Spirit on people of all ages on that day. We are told that young and old will dream dreams and see visions and proclaim the word of the Lord. We are offered a vision of a Spirit inspired community of people of all ages working together to do the Lord’s work. We do have an intergenerational mix of people at St. Andrew, but like so many congregations we are weighted toward people who are my age and older. We need young people like you to help us dream dreams and see visions. Do not hesitate to share any creative insights you may have. It is amazing what the Spirit of God accomplished on the Day of Pentecost. Surely the Spirit can continue to inspire amazing things in people of all ages in our time and place.

 

And finally, I hope your faith will inspire you to devote yourselves to living out St. Andrew’s core care values: God care, Earth care, community care, neighbor care, and self-care. This year we are commemorating the 500th Anniversary  of the Reformation. We are Evangelical Lutherans. Martin Luther strongly emphasized God’s unconditional love for us. You both stressed God’s unconditional love in your faith statements. Luther would be pleased to hear young people stressing God’s gracious love for us. Nothing is more important than having faith, than trusting that God loves us. But Luther also emphasized that faith is active in love. Those who trust in God reach out in love to others. It is important, as you pointed out, Logan, that we “walk the talk.” For baptized children of God, intent on following Jesus, walking the talk means seeking reconciliation with people we have wronged or who have wronged us; it means doing justice—that is, treating all God’s people and all God’s creatures right. The MAX attacks last highlighted how much God needs people committed to seeking reconciliation and doing justice. 

 

Izzie and Logan, may God bless you as you begin your adult lives in the church. We are confident that God will work through you to bless the lives of many in our church, the communities you live in, and the world. Be assured that God is very pleased with you.

 

Your brother in Christ,

 

Pastor Mark