Embracing the Significance of Confirmation Day: A Journey of Faith and Commitment
The Holy Trinity Sunday - 6/4/2023 | Matthew 28:16-20
Within the intricate tapestry of the church's worship life, certain pivotal days ascend to the forefront as moments of profound spiritual depth and significance. Palm Sunday, Good Friday, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost—each of these chapters contributes to the unfolding narrative of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man. From His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, foreshadowing redemption from sin and death, to His sacrificial suffering and triumphant resurrection, and the empowering descent of the Holy Spirit upon His apostles, these milestones collectively compose the captivating story of salvation.
Yet, amidst this rich narrative, a day often escapes the attention of both the world and those who profess faith in Christ. This day, however, merits enthusiastic reverence. Imagine the infectious excitement of Ol' Caleb the Camel from the iconic Geico Insurance commercials, joyfully declaring, "Guess what day it is?" This occasion holds a similar potential for jubilation—not through boisterous cheers, but through a profound recognition of its significance.
Unveiling the Obscured Day: A Celebration of Achievement
So, which day holds this hidden significance? Today, we gather to celebrate the journey of four young souls who have traversed the arduous path of confirmation—a spiritual voyage akin to ascending a challenging hump. Through the rigors of memorization, sermon reports, and demanding two-year courses, these individuals have emerged victorious, much like Caleb conquering the camel's hump. Their achievement stands as a testament to their unwavering dedication and perseverance—a milestone deserving of heartfelt celebration.
However, we must resist the temptation to reduce this day to a mere rite of passage. As Mr. Ted Schreiber, our congregational president, eloquently expressed during his address to the confirmands, "Your confirmation is not a graduation day." Unfortunately, at times, this perspective has overshadowed the true essence of confirmation, turning it into a culmination rather than a continuous commitment—a threshold that beckons to deeper study, the application of God's Word, and active engagement with the Holy Sacrament.
Unveiling the Essence of Confirmation: A Lifelong Commitment
Reflecting upon the past 18 years, during which approximately 160 individuals embraced the Lutheran faith within our congregation through confirmation, a pressing question arises: Where are they now? How do they spend their Sundays? A solemn realization dawns as the once-crowded pews of confirmands now appear sparsely populated. If we were to faithfully uphold the promises made on our confirmation day, our sanctuary's walls might struggle to contain the congregation.
The Lutheran Worship Agenda characterizes confirmation as a public rite following a period of instruction, designed to weave baptized Christians into the communal fabric of the church. It marks a pivotal juncture for individuals to openly profess their faith, solidifying a lifelong commitment to Christ and His teachings—a commitment rooted in the promise bestowed during Holy Baptism.
Embracing the Trinity's Essence: Commemorating Confirmation on Holy Trinity Sunday
Amidst the rich tapestry of the church calendar, today—Holy Trinity Sunday—provides a profound backdrop for commemorating Confirmation Day. This occasion transcends the celebrations of Christ's redemptive acts, inviting us to delve into the essence of God's nature, our identity, and the entrusted mission. On this day, we assume the mantle of disciples of the Trinity.
Nurturing Discipleship within the Trinity's Unity
In a world brimming with counterfeits and falsehoods, we stand as beneficiaries of divine providence—disciples of the one true God, the Triune God, encompassing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—an intricate unity within diversity. As our public confession attests, He is the Creator of all realms, both visible and invisible. Our unique status as human beings, intricately fashioned in His image, grants us the ability to commune with Him and reflect His holiness.
However, the exercise of free will introduced a rift within this divine harmony. Our ancestors, in a tragic act of rebellion, embraced self-deification, choosing evil over good and death over life. Consequently, humanity inherited a state of estrangement from the Triune God—a separation that cried out for reconciliation.
The Redemption Tapestry: Culmination in Christ
Gratefully, the tapestry of divine love intervened, predestining the restoration of fellowship before the foundations of creation were laid. This divine design culminated in the person of Jesus Christ, as elucidated in the Athanasian Creed—a Christ who is fully divine and fully human, heralding a new era. His earthly journey, culminating in death and resurrection, bridged the gap, enabling humanity to be reborn in the divine likeness.
Faith as the Vital Bridge to Communion
Amidst the tapestry of theological concepts, faith emerges as a pivotal juncture. The Athanasian Creed asserts, "Whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved." Authentic faith serves as the bridge to eternal communion with God; conversely, disbelief leads one toward eternal estrangement. However, this faith does not arise from human intellect or ingenuity; it is ignited by divine initiative, kindled through the proclamation of Christ's Word. As Jesus affirmed, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ."
Baptism and Rebirth: Sacramental Significance
This truth resonates in Jesus' discourse with Nicodemus, underscoring the unbreakable link between faith and rebirth—a rebirth facilitated through water and the Spirit. This sacramental significance echoes through Holy Baptism, where water becomes a conduit for the birth of faith, uniting believers with Christ and extending the embrace of forgiveness.
Confirmation: Cultivating Lifelong Discipleship
In the rich tapestry of scriptural teachings, a radiant passage surfaces—Matthew 28:16-20. These verses encapsulate the essence of the Triune God and harmonize seamlessly with the purpose of confirmation. Within this passage, Jesus imparts a dual directive: make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Embedded in this mandate is a profound dimension of discipleship—one grounded not merely in intellectual agreement, but in the transformation of hearts, minds, and lives.
Biblical discipleship transcends mere assent; it signifies a deep commitment to learning and following. Discipleship entails aligning heart, soul, and body with the teachings of the master—a holistic transformation culminating in wholehearted devotion to the teacher. Through these verses, Christ lays out a blueprint for molding disciples—baptism into the Triune identity and immersion in the teachings of Christ.
Confirmation: Nurturing the Journey of Discipleship
Confirmation stands as a construct within the church, ingeniously designed to facilitate the process of discipleship. It serves a distinct purpose, set apart from Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper, yet intricately interwoven into the fabric of faith. While baptism introduces believers to faith and communion, confirmation propels them toward a lifelong embrace of Christ's teachings. It calls for a firm commitment to the discipleship journey, urging believers to wholeheartedly embody the commitment they have professed.
The Pledge of Lifelong Discipleship
This commitment materializes in the solemnity of a pledge, epitomized in the confirmation vows. These vows go beyond mere verbal affirmation; they encapsulate a steadfast promise—to diligently engage with God's Word, partake in the Holy Supper, embody His teachings, and remain devoted to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These vows mirror the very essence of discipleship—a steadfast dedication to embodying Christ's teachings in faith, word, and action.
In essence, confirmands stand at a crossroads, making a decision that extends beyond mere beliefs, transforming into a life enriched by discipleship. This decision carries immense weight, grounded in the understanding that this commitment exceeds human capability. The abiding presence of Jesus, as affirmed in Matthew 28:20, becomes a source of solace—a steadfast promise amidst the ebb and flow of life's seasons.
Illuminating the Path of Discipleship
As we commemorate Holy Trinity Sunday, our celebration transcends mere theological affirmation of God's triune essence. It calls us to explore the intricate threads of discipleship interwoven into the fabric of our faith journey—a journey that commences with baptism, flourishes through confirmation, and unfolds throughout life.
Guided by the Triune God, we are summoned to tread the path of discipleship—a path marked by challenges, yet teeming with divine promise. Our response echoes the spirit of Ol' Caleb the Camel: "What day is it?" It is the day of discipleship—a day to journey alongside the Trinity as devoted followers, secure in the unwavering presence of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
This day is not only a celebration of achievement, but also an initiation—a threshold into a life enriched by unceasing study, unwavering faith, and steadfast commitment to the teachings of the Triune God. Let our hearts resonate with the assurance of Christ's presence, empowering us to boldly navigate the terrain of discipleship and emerge as vibrant witnesses to the transformative power of the Trinity in our lives.
May this celebration of confirmation stand as a testament to the enduring promise of Christ's words: "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." As we embrace this promise and cultivate a life of discipleship, we stand ready to illuminate the world with the radiant love and grace of the Triune God—a love that transcends time, an embrace that spans eternity.