Today was Confirmation Sunday for our congregation. Eleven young people stood up in front of the congregation and said, "Yes", they wanted to continue to be disciples of Jesus, they wanted to live their baptism, they wanted be children of God, just as they were called when their parents carried them to the font a few years ago. Eleven young people said, "Yes, and I ask God to help and guide me", when I asked them "Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in Holy Baptism?"
And I think they all meant it.
Oh, I know that some of them have doubts. Some of them wonder about the stories of the Bible. Are they really true? Some of them seem hard to believe. But despite their doubts, they somehow want to continue the journey, being connected to this particular set of people who bear Christ's name. Others of them are more certain of God, but they still have questions. They wonder about how it all works, what eternity is like, why is there evil in the world? But despite their questions, they still said "Yes" when I asked them "Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in Holy Baptism?"
It's a pretty big question, whether you are in the 9th grade or whether you are 90. "Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in Holy Baptism?" Just to prove it, when we ask 9th graders, we break the question down into five parts. We say this is what it means to continue in the covenant God made with us in Holy Baptism:
* to live among God's holy people
* to hear God's word and share in his supper
* to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed
* to serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,
* to strive for justice and peace through all the earth.
I can't help thinking that, though all of the 9th graders meant it when they said "yes" today, they really didn't know what they were getting into. In this way, they aren't that different from any one of us, at any age, when we say "yes" to being disciples of Jesus.
We all say "yes," because, at the time, we somehow know that saying "yes" means life to us. Saying yes means grace and forgiveness, love that is stronger than death, a place prepared with many mansions.
Just two weeks ago, members of our congregation gathered after worship to learn the outcomes of some of our redevelopment groups. We heard reports about the demographics of our community, learned more about the two paths our congregation could take: either "redevelopment" or "legacy." We learned that the path of 'redevelopment' is a path of change, and that it leads to growth and life. We learned that the path of 'legacy' is a path that, eventually, leads to death. The choice seems simple. To choose to redevelop is to choose life.
But at the heart of it, it is the same sort of question as the one posed to the confirmation students today. At the heart of it, to be a redevelopment church is to say "Yes," to the question "do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in Holy Baptism?"
"Yes, and I ask God to help and guide me."
On that Sunday two weeks ago, we said yes. Just like those 9th graders.
And I think we all meant it.
But we don't yet know what it will mean. We don't really realize how it is that God will transform us, in our encounters with our neighbors, in suffering and service, in worship and joy, in silence and in shouting. We don't really realize how it is that God will transform us, from one degree of glory into another.
In the meantime, we all said 'yes.'
But more important than that, we asked God to help and guide us.