Commitment and Confirmation Sunday
Reading and Reflections
May 22, 2011
Scripture: Luke 2: 41-52
Preachers: Alex Kiritsy, Emeline Sterpe, Herbie Foyd, Jenny Hadley, (confirmands) and Stacy Swain (Pastor). Scripture readers: Dawn Scott and Kent Wittler (mentors)
Today we celebrate and recognize these four young people’s confirmation as they step into membership in this church. And while today is certainly a day to celebrate and recognize this big step in their lives and in the life of this church, today would never have been these young people if it were not for a moment about ten months ago when they said yes to this intentional journey of faith that brings us to day.
Now I have two adolescents who just went through confirmation, and I know I know that walking this journey of confirmation may have started out more of their parents idea then their own. It may have started out that it was just one of those things, their parents or their church tells them they have to do. But I can assure you, somewhere along the way, the journey became their own. As we studied together, prayed together, and served and learned from others, as we journeyed together this year, each one of them picked up the staff of discipleship for themselves and walked this path not for you or for me, but for themselves.
In the scripture today, we will hear about Jesus. He is twelve years old and it is time for the journey to Jerusalem. Maybe he did not want to go this year. Maybe his parents made him go or maybe his rabbi insisted on it, but he set out with all of the others walking with his parents, and cousins and friends of his community. But somewhere along the way, the journey became his journey and through it he found his voice and those who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Kent: “Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.”
Alex: God is our creator and redeemer and has built a perfect world for us to live in. God is someone that will always be with us, in the good or bad. He is more powerful than anything we could think of and that is why he will always be forgiving no matter what, despite all of our sins and wrong doings. God does not care if you are African American, Asian, or Indian, he only cares about how you live your life and treat others. He does not care about what people are like on the outside, he only cares about what people are like on the inside.
Herbie for Emeline: When I started confirmation class, I only knew a little about these four ideas: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and discipleship. God is the creator of the universe who can help us to glorify him in the presence of things we do and say. He can also be with us during our hardships and help us to know how to be like him. If I could talk to him, I would ask him if he could bring back the family members who died.
Jenny: What I believe about God is that He is always there when we need him, and He wants to be a part of our life. We can always talk to Him if we don’t have anyone else to talk to and we can pray. I think that He wants to be a big part of our lives, but this can only happen if we let Him in. He already has plans for our lives.
Herbie: I believe that God is the creator of everything. He cares for and loves everyone and helps us when we don't know what to do. I used to imagine God as an old man with a beard sitting on a cloud in the sky. Now my image of God has changed since I've grown up. I now see more of a symbol and less of a person. When I think of God I think of love and peace. These 2 things come to mind because I think that God represents love and peace for the whole world. Sometimes it is hard to keep my faith when times get difficult, I wonder sometimes why does God do bad things to good people.
I look at my life and realize how lucky I am for what I have, but then I look at people who are disabled, poor or sick and I wonder why did this happen to them? I've met some great people who have had some tough breaks in their lives and I don't understand "why them?" Still
I thank God everyday for what I have and I pray for others who are in need.
Dawn “Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.”
Alex: Jesus was more than a human being. He was a messenger from God to pass over God’s word to his people. He did this with his teachings of God and religion. He took action by healing and encouraging people to worship God. Jesus sacrificed himself for all of us to be able to live an eternal life. Even though we cannot see him, we know that he is there because of all that he has done for us.
Herbie for Emeline: God’s son Jesus is a special guy because he was killed for our sins. He taught people to be godlike to our neighbors. If Jesus still lived on this earth, I would be kneeling at his feet thanking him for what he did.
Jenny: On this journey of faith, I have learned that I am never alone. Jesus is always with everyone, and he is there to talk to. Faith is not something that comes easily, you have to work at it every day and make time to talk to God. Jesus’ disciples did not lose faith in Jesus, and this is a lesson to everybody because there should be no hesitation when it comes to faith. We should be the best that we can be for Jesus. Nobody is perfect and everyone messes up, but Jesus died for our sins so we must try hard to obey him and do our best.
Kent: “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers”
Alex: The Holy Spirit connects God’s people to God. The Holy Spirit allows us to experience God’s love in a positive way. It has given everyone gifts in many different ways. I believe my gift is that I am very passionate to complete goals that I have set. Whether it’s on the soccer field or in the classroom, I never quit on myself and always try to succeed at accomplishing my goals.
Herbie for Emeline: The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God which I didn’t think the Holy Spirit was that important, but now I do. In confirmation class I learned about the Trinity and what it was. The Trinity goes Father, Son and Holy Spirit which I didn’t know until I learned about it in confirmation class.
Jenny: Holy Spirit is all around us in our daily lives. It is like the wind, you can’t see or hear it, but you can feel it. This is God’s way of being on earth when he isn’t actually here. The Holy Spirit touches people and brings peace and happiness to the world. It is a way to know that God cares, and God is always with us. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. It may not be obvious, but the little things that it does will make you realize that God really is here.
Herbie: I have always known the Holy Spirit to be like wind, because you can't see it but you can just feel when it's presence is around you. It is somewhat like a sign to show you that God is here and will always be here. Through rough times I can remember feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit, which helped guide me on the right path to make the correct decision.
Dawn: When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him. “Child why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Alex: Although we consider there to be only 12 disciples that we reference, we are all disciples of God. This means that we carry out the continuing cycle of action, reflection and belief. All of these aspects of the cycle refer to worshipping God. We can take action by doing what God would want us to do. A few examples of what God would want us to do are preparing meals for people who are less fortunate or walking and fundraising for people who are suffering from malnutrition. One person who has carried out the “action” aspect of the cycle in a major way is Dr. Paul Farmer. He has gone back and forth from Haiti to Boston for the last 20 years assisting and curing people with Tuberculosis and AIDS. Paul Farmer has recognized how he can use his medical knowledge to take part in what God would want us to do in a hands on way, and that is be of service to others.
Herbie for Emeline: Before I had the joy of coming to confirmation class, I had no idea what discipleship was but now I do. Discipleship is the act of converting into a disciple.
Jenny: Discipleship does not necessarily mean just the group of disciples that walked with and followed Jesus. It simply means anyone who follows Jesus and tries to live the way that Jesus would want you to live. Doing this is not always easy. You cannot just say you follow Jesus, you have to actually listen to him and show your faith. You can be a disciple by making the world a better place one step at a time and showing everyone the way of Jesus.
Herbie : These are the people who followed Jesus and there are still disciples today, they are people who follow Jesus' beliefs and teachings. I feel like in a way everyone in our conformation class is an example of a disciple because this year we have followed in the footsteps of Jesus by learning, teaching, and helping others.
Kent: “But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor.”
Alex: I want to be confirmed because I want to be more a part of the church. I also want to help others in the church that don’t have as strong of a faith in Jesus and God as I do.
Some questions I have are: “If God has so much power, why doesn’t he prevent all of these natural and human disasters?” and “Did the belief and faith in God start when people were going through hardship?”
Herbie for Emeline: I want to be confirmed because when I was young, I would watch the congregation and want to be like them – loving going to church. I also want to be confirmed to be closer to God and Jesus. A question I still have in my heart is: “Why does God believe in us?” Another question I have is: “Why did God let his son be crucified for our sins? Couldn’t there have been another way?”
Jenny I want to be confirmed to become a member of the church. This means that I will be more involved with the church, and I will make a commitment to the Union Church. I want to make a difference by helping out and trying my best to be a role model for the children. To me, being confirmed means that I will belong to this church and I have the responsibility to do my best to help the church.
Herbie: I have chosen to be confirmed because I want to become an even more active part of this community. Helping others, who are less fortunate than I am, is an important part of my life and I want more opportunities to volunteer.
The question I still have is: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” This is the question that has been on my mind for a long time and I want to keep learning about it.
Stacy: “And all who heard them were amazed at their understanding and their answers.” May the path that these young people have journeyed thus far and their commitment to continue that walk of faith inspire and encourage us. May their voice speaking what they know and the questions that still move in their hearts, lead us to speak from our place of knowing and to let the questions moving in us also find voice. And today as we too commit ourselves to this church and the Way of Jesus, may we increase in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor. AMEN