Summary: A sermon for Confirmation Sunday.
Today is a day full of milestones. Last week, we celebrated together the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and though every Sunday is a "little Easter," our special Easter celebration will continue on for a few weeks until Pentecost Sunday. One of the ways the church has traditionally marked the Easter celebration is through the Confirmation of new professing believers and reception into membership. So, here at Grace (Fairview), today is Confirmation Sunday and we will later celebrate together as four (seven) of our youth claim their faith in your presence and become full members of this congregation. [Over at Fairview later today, we will baptize a baby and confirm seven other youth.] (And, of course, we have already baptized an infant this morning.) Indeed, today we celebrate significant “milestones” along the “journey of faith.” So, as the confirmands celebrate their Confirmation on this day, I am going to have a conversation with these young minds, and I invite those of you who are young or just young at heart to eavesdrop, to listen in as we reflect together on this journey of faith.
So here we are, you have come to a significant milestone in your great journey of faith. In just a few short moments, as soon as I’m done preaching (which knowing the way preachers go could actually be more than just moments), you will affirm your faith in Christ and be welcomed into the membership of this congregation. Your Confirmation is indeed a significant milestone that we celebrate in our Christian lives. You have worked hard to get to this point. For many of you, since you were children, you have been learning about God, and Jesus, and the Bible, and the church. And in the last several months, each of you has been even more intentional in that learning. You have faithfully participated in the Confirmation classes, you have done special work at home with your families and other members of the congregation. And now, with all of that preparation behind you, we are all here, ready to celebrate your growth through Confirmation.
But here’s the thing, the baptism that we celebrated earlier [in your lives] and your Confirmation are just brief moments in the journey of faith. These services are the ways that we as humans mark and celebrate our continual growth in the faith. And that’s the key, our growth is continual. Certainly, our Confirmation is very significant, just like our baptism, or even sharing in communion with fellow believers. But what I want us to celebrate on this day, as much as Confirmation, is what happens in the in-between times. The things that go on in our lives between baptism and confirmation, or following our confirmation, or even in between Sundays, because that is where the significant moments really happen.
How many of you like Oreos? I have to confess that I LOVE Oreos. I don’t eat them as much as I used to. But I remember that when I was a little kid, I had Oreos and milk as a bedtime snack almost every night. My mom would go down to the kitchen and she would put two or three Oreos on a paper towel and then she would poor some milk in a little glass and we would go back upstairs to my parents’ bedroom. I would sit down on the floor in the middle of the room, and we would watch TV together while I ate the Oreos and milk. I can remember that almost as if it was yesterday. I can also remember that I didn’t always eat the Oreos the same way, at least not for a while. Sometimes I would just devour an Oreo in two or three bites. Other times, I would dip the Oreos in the milk and savor them a bit more. And then, over time I discovered that good stuff in the middle. And I started pulling off one cookie and eating it, then eating the cream out of the middle before finishing off the second cookie. Now here’s what’s significant about that method of Oreo eating. I am a chocoholic. I love anything and everything chocolate, it is my most favorite food, hands down. But when it comes to Oreos, it’s not the chocolate cookie that I love so much, it’s the creaminess in the middle. I mean, I think that many of you would agree that when it comes to Oreo cookies, it's all about the middle! And the same is true in our life as Christians.
These milestones that we remember and celebrate today, Baptism and Confirmation, they are great and they are very important, just like the chocolate cookies in an Oreo. But the things that really make us into Christians, the really good stuff about us, are those parts in between these milestones. If we are to really follow Jesus’ charge in our lives, and are to live in the world as sent people commissioned by Christ, then we have to get to that stuff in the middle. You see, baptism is not an ending, it’s the way we mark God’s claim on our lives. Likewise, Confirmation is not the end of an intense period of learning and study, it is the beginning of our journey as full members of the body of Christ as expressed through the church.