Jeremiah's Confirmation

Today is a significant day in our lives, especially for each of you that is being confirmed. For we are saying again that we understand what it means to have a relationship with one who is awesomely powerful. God.

For we know that this God that we cannot see or touch as we see and touch our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives is there, and there, and whose presence is felt everywhere. . . fills this room. Yet, do we claim that fact for our very own?

I mean, maybe coming to church has been a habit since childhood. Or maybe, attending confirmation was simply obeying our parents' wishes, at least at first. And, some may have figured we were covering all the bases, just in case. But now, here you are joining your voices with all the rest in this room - declaring that this faith means something important to you.

All of us have spent time as you have learning the basics of our beliefs. Learning scripture, memorizing the ten commandments, Luther's small catechism. Some at your age, some as adults. But all of us spending time in the Bible trying to make sense of what we know about Bible times and the writers and the events- figuring out what it all has to do with me now in my situation, knowing the kind of activities I'm involved in. Trying to make the pieces of an old puzzle work in a seemingly new puzzle. Afterall, the world doesn't seem much better or worse for the efforts of hundreds of thousands of confirmands through the centuries.

We have heard pastor offering connections in sermons and lessons through the years while some whispered and giggled, Others stared blankly at the floor with quick thoughts of dates, soccer games, jumps on the skateboard passing across our consciousness.

But there's a whole lot more than just information that forms a relationship. We know from our own friendships that the depth is not dependent on knowing where they were born, where they live, what they like for lunch, or what they do in their free time. But a sense of who they are, what they stand for, how they react when times get tough, are they reliable, steadfast, honest? Do they truly listen with their hearts when we talk to each other?

Jeremiah understood this when he talked about the day when the law for the Jews would no longer be taught to them, but it would be written in their hearts. Learning a list of rules and agreeing to obey them as best we can is okay for good order and discovering how one should behave. But it doesn't help us discover much about the author. When the law becomes written on the heart, its another way of saying that we understand the "why" of the law. What is the underlying purpose, how is it effective, and what could be the outcome of following it? Soon, we begin to see the bigger picture that God sees and we become partners with Jesus. We no longer listen with our ears but with something more meaningful.

The vision Jeremiah had was during a time when the Israelites had been dispossessed of their land and carried off into captivity. Jeremiah could see the time when the Israelites would once again return home. But this time, because of the trials of exile, they would have a different relationship with the Lord. He saw the partnership that would be possible because the Israelites would now know the Lord. Their experiences in life had given them a new perspective and they had found God in places they had not expected. Suddenly the law rose from within them as part of their being.

Now you have that same challenge. To find Jesus in places you don't expect. You have been equipped with knowledge of the faith, and the tools to understand the Bible. Can you turn it into a deep relationship? One that nourishes you in this life? One that finds you face-to-face or side-by-side with Jesus in all you do? One that turns everyone elses understanding of life upside down because of your radical faith? For this faith is not one of just hearing and obeying, but adopting and being. What has your heart heard?

The Gospel tells us we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Many of us might say as Jesus' companions did, "But we're Americans, is this not already the land of the free?" Technically, yes. But in reality we all have role expectations that we fulfill. Some have 40-60 hour a week jobs. Some spend hours doing homework and studying for tests. We buy certain products because the radio and TV and acquaintances urge us to. We problem solve in the way our teachers have taught us. We aren't always willing to think outside of the box, because we don't want to make mistakes and be humiliated. And the list of self-imposed limitations to our freedom could grow and grow.

But the Gospel sets us truly free to soar above human boundaries because we see as God sees, we can think as Jesus would think. And, how we act within our limitations is what truly sets us free. At this moment, we stand at the threshhold of new life, totally free to have a relationship with this awesome God of ours and to walk with Jesus Christ in all we do. So, throw open the doors to your hearts and allow Christ to gift you with grace and mercy. Remember, as you step forward today that you are challenged to live responsible lives. If you take the time to listen and truly discover Jesus, your life will be a blessing for everyone you meet. May you continue to grow in your faith and relationship with God. Amen


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