June 4, 2023
There are a lot of coming-of-age moments in life. Like one day during the first month of my freshman year in high school. I remember looking out the window and seeing a lot of students out on the athletic fields playing games and running around. I had about five minutes before class, so I thought I’d go down there and check it out. Turns out it was senior field day. So I spent the next half hour playing catch, eating snacks, talking to people, and having a good time. I knew a lot of the seniors. Some were mad I was there, but most thought it was funny that a freshman had the guts to go to senior field day. Unfortunately for me some teachers saw me too, and later that day I was called down to the office and handed my first detention. It was a real coming-of-age moment you might say.
About a month later I had my Confirmation. We always had it on Reformation Sunday in October. That was another important day in my life, another coming-of-age moment when I knew I was making a commitment to be a Christian. I had been a Christian my whole life, but this was different. Now I was an adult Christian. A person who would take responsibility for my own spiritual journey, someone who would follow Jesus, and do my best to discern God’s will for my life. It is a moment like that that our confirmation students will experience today.
Confirmation Sunday is a day to celebrate what they’ve done these past two years—learning about the Bible and Small Catechism, participating as worship leaders, doing service projects, and helping others. But more than a celebration of something you’ve finished, today is an initiation into something you’re about to begin. It is the beginning of your life as a Christian adult. A coming-of-age moment when you will affirm your baptism and take responsibility for your own relationship with God. You’ll be able to do all the things any adult member of St. Matthew does, like be assisting ministers, lectors, or ushers, even serve on church council! And I do hope you’ll be active in youth group and come to the ELCA National Youth Gathering next summer, that’s July 16-20 2024.
Now during Confirmation classes we learned about a lot of things. Things like the Holy Trinity which is the focus of this Sunday in terms of the church calendar. On the Sunday after Pentecost every year Christians observe a special Sunday dedicated to the mystery of the Holy Trinity. To the mystery of God being three in one and one in three. What we call Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sometimes Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier.
The mystery of the Trinity is not something we can fully understand. In fact, some theologians suggest the idea is meant to break down our dualistic logical minds. To teach us intellectual humility by showing us we cannot possibly understand the mysteries of the universe. I like what Richard Rohr said about the mystery of the Trinity. He said, “Mystery isn’t something that you cannot understand—it is something that you can endlessly understand! There is no point at which you can say, ‘I’ve got it.’ Always and forever, mystery gets you!”
A good way to start understanding the Trinity is to recognize that it teaches us that God is all about relationship. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that God at God’s core is a relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A divine dance where three partners merge into one and endlessly create and sustain the universe.
The Trinity’s creation of the universe is described in our first reading this morning. Which is the creation story from Genesis 1. In it we see God the Father as Creator, the Word of God speaking things into existence, and God’s Spirit hovering over the waters. God even says, “Let us make humankind in our image.” The plural words us and our have fascinated theologians for centuries. They seem to suggest that this creating God is a community, perhaps an indication of the Trinity found in the Bible’s very first pages. This beautiful story of creation reveals to us the truth that God is Creator and empowers us to know that we are created in God’s image. We are created to be in community too. We are created to be children of God who reflect God’s being and manifest God’s image in the physical realm.
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus describes the Trinity in the final chapter of Matthew when he gives the disciples what’s called the Great Commission. That is, to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The word Trinity may not appear in the Bible, but clear references like this one do. As disciples of Jesus today, we too are called to share the Good News of God’s love and grace. The Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Good News that we are all God’s children, created in God’s image, called to manifest God’s presence in the physical created world.
Now we humans don’t always live up to this call to reflect God’s image in the world or to spread the Gospel to all nations. We can be distracted by other priorities. We can be lazy and disinterested. We can be selfish and sinful. We know we cannot perfectly reflect God in the world, the way Jesus did. But we are called to follow Jesus in lives dedicated to discipleship. Lives where we strive to grow and mature and develop on the spiritual path. Not because we have to in order to earn God’s love or approval. We’ve already been accepted and forgiven and loved by God since the very beginning. So it’s not a matter of we have to, but we get to! We get to enter the spiritual journey. We get to grow and mature and develop. We get to manifest the goodness and compassion of God in the world. We get to be filled with the peace and joy of the Spirit. We get to go to church, we get to be involved, we get to grow together as a community. Because that’s what we were created for, and living into the children of God we were created to be is most exciting thing there is.
And so that is what seven young adults are confirming today. That they want to continue in this Christian life. They’re not affirming they know all the answers. They’re not saying they have everything figured out. They’re not promising they will never doubt or wonder again. What they are confirming today is that they are happy they are baptized, and because of that they will trust the Holy Spirit as the guiding force of their lives, and will keep asking questions, keep exploring and learning, keep growing on the journey and discovering what God has in store for their lives. Being confirmed doesn’t mean they’re claiming to know it all about the Christian faith. They’re claiming that they want to be in relationship with this Trinitarian God who loves us so much. Confirmation isn’t about claiming you know all the answers; it’s about affirming that you will keep wondering, keep searching, keep discovering your place in God’s family.
And so we hold these seven young Christians in prayer today. We promise them that we will pray for them on their faith journey. That we will be there for them and encourage them. That we will be fellow pilgrims with them as they continue to explore the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of life, the mystery of God’s calling for each of us.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
- Pastor Brian