Confirmation

One of the most amazing things about getting to grow up at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota, was that I always knew that no matter what career I chose, I would be minister. Our pastors loved to talk about the Priesthood of All Believers. They would regularly have classes for people who worked in the health care profession, for example, to talk about living out their faith in daily life. And then all of them would stand up during worship and re-commit to following Jesus. They would affirm their faith. Another time it would be teachers, or farmers, or folks in retail. You get the idea….
As a teenager, this had quite an impression on me. It was sort of like regularly seeing adults go through confirmation. They confirmed their belief that God had called them—as spouses, friends, workers, church members—in all their roles, to follow him.
This Sunday at SLC, seven young men and women will stand before our church and affirm their baptisms in the service we call Confirmation. They have spent three years learning about what we believe as a church and what they believe as individuals. And now they become “adults” in the church. They can vote as they are members in their own right, no longer because their parents made them do it.
I love confirmation. That was the time in my life that I first felt the call to be a pastor. But I have also taught confirmation, and I know very well that the love of confirmation is not universal. In fact, for many, it is a hurdle to jump and the surest way to ensure a young person does not come back to church.
But I still love it, and this is why. I love that it happens here at SLC on Pentecost—the day that Luke tells in the book of Acts about the coming of the Holy Spirit. I love that the spirit is still at work–that the spirit is calling teenagers to be followers.
I love that parents and the church have kept the promises they made when the kids were baptized to teach them about Jesus, bring them to church, and give them a bible. And I love that we will make even more promises to them to be their community. To pray for them when they get their drivers licenses. To support them on their mission trips. To pray for them when they graduate, grow up, get married. We will promise to be with them in good times and bad. To bring over a casserole when they lose a loved one. To cry with them. Because this is what the church does. We are there for each other because this is what Jesus asks us to do.
We will mess up a lot. And that is also what I love about confirmation. We affirm our belief in an infinitely forgiving God. And just as God forgives us, we are going to have to forgive each other.
And I also love that no matter what these confirmands end up doing, God is going to use them. They are the latest in a LONG line of Jesus’ disciples. No matter what job they end up doing, they will be a part of the priesthood of all believers. Helping the poor, solving local, state, or world problems, caring for their communities, sharing their gifts whatever those gifts may be.
We are all called to let our lights shine before others, even though this world can be a pretty dark place. But when we stand together, it is somehow less dark. And we are given the gift of the Spirit—again and again and again, to walk with us no matter where we go. Thanks be to God.

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