Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pentecost and Confirmation

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday.

It is also confirmation day for our 9th graders.

I was confirmed on Pentecost Sunday a few years ago now.  Back in those days, and in my tradition, I believe that Pentecost was always Confirmation Sunday.  We chose the day that the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles to lay hand on the young people and ask that the Holy Spirit descend on them, too.

Back in those days, in my tradition, anyway, there was no prayer for the Holy Spirit at baptism.  We waited for about 15 years, until your confirmation day, to pray that the Holy Spirit would come to you. But somewhere along the line, when we were reading the Bible (always a dangerous thing to do), someone noticed that, in the book of Acts, everyone received the Holy Spirit right after they were baptized.  So now, whatever age you are, you receive the gifts of the Spirit at baptism.

At confirmation, we pray, instead, a prayer that begins this way, "Father in heaven, for Jesus' sake, stir up in _______ your Holy Spirit."

Stir up.  I like that.

It's a good for Pentecost, as well as for Confirmation.

So we lay hands individually on each 9th grader, each 15 year old, and pray "Stir up your Holy Spirit in this person."  And I suppose that what we are thinking is a sort of "get moving, Holy Spirit!" sort of prayer.  "Get this person through life!  There are going to be a lot of tests, and a lot of trials, and a lot of doubts going on, and be the Spirit that keeps this person faithful through all of those things.  Give them the strength that keeps them going when the going gets tough, when their spouse or child gets sick, when they lose their job, when they are lonely, when they are grieving, when they are dying."

That's sort of the gist of it.  "Stir up your Holy Spirit."

And that's not a bad start.  But "Stir up" has so many implications, complications.  I catch myself wanting to pray more this way, "Cause some problems, Holy Spirit!  Move things around that have been in the same place way too long.  Kick this person in the seat of the pants, help them to think in ways they have never thought before.  Open them to new possibilities, new missions, new ways of loving the world.  Stir up your Holy Spirit so that we might be your troublemaking church."

What I wish for our 9th grade confirmation class, is to be troublemakers -- in a good way, of course.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to stir them up so that the rest of us will be stirred up too -- to be a truly Pentecostal Church.
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