Today is another one of those special days in the life of any family, church or child. Today our granddaughter, Abby was confirmed and received into the full membership of the United Methodist Church. The preacher said we’ve made this a special worship service because this is a significant thing that is happening in our church and in the lives of these youth.
Ever since the Church has tried to identify itself as the Church, there have been questions about God, how God works, how can we be the Church, grow in the likeness of Christ, and be fit for heaven?
The Wesleyan Methodist folks, now partially known as United Methodist understood the movement of God as GRACE. In other words you or I haven’t done anything to deserve our salvation. We cannot work, buy, will, beg entice, cajole, be in the right family, at the right time, in the right place. We did NADDA… NYET, ZIP, NOTHING… except receive that gift which God had already prepared for us as a child of God.
I think that is why I so appreciate the theology of infant baptism. In that liturgy the child receives the grace of a loving God… not even being able to know or follow that God. Parents, families, guardians, and the church make a covenant with God to live before this child the love of God in such a way that this child will have every opportunity and advantage of living a Christian life. As they grow in years they also are growing in the knowledge and grace of Almighty God. Somewhere along that path, usually around the age of 12-16 (Baptist call this the age of accountability) when they feel led to be confirmed in the faith… that is they want more and ask to become responsible for their own life of faith and their continue journey in growing in God. No longer do they live on the faith of their parents. Now they work out their own faith. Now they are expected to seek out their own calling in the faith; how will my faith be expressed – lived out in the day to day world?
Confirmation answers the question of how do I grow in my faith, become closer to God and more in unity with the Holy Spirit and the world around me? How is that possible for such a newbie in the faith as me? Well, today through the grace of God you were reminded that Jesus bestowed the Holy Spirit upon the disciples for the work ahead of them. Confirmation is a reminder of Jesus saying to each confirmand: Receive the Holy Spirit. Be empowered by The Spirit of God for the work ahead of you.
Today you are, as all of us are, recommitting ourselves to the moving presence of Christ in our lives… which, as we listen with our heart and soul and mind, draws us closer to the life of Christ. Today we are also reminded that we are who we are and what we are and who we will become in faith by the grace of Jesus Christ freely moving in and through our daily living.
I commend to you one of my favorite passages of scripture is this text below:
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
Congratulations to all who were confirmed today… to all who have been or will be confirmed soon… Especially to our precious Abby; May you be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Grace and Peace