Confirmation Sunday — the Adventure Continues

John 7: 37-39 ” … out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water ….

The image of water brings it, again, all back to Baptism. Confirmation is about affirming — saying “yes!” — to your baptism. The waters of our little font seem placid and calm enough. But we all know that faith and life can be at times turbulent and stormy. The text from John for today suggests the living water is the Spirit of God, given to you! What does that say about how the Spirit behaves? Because “living” does not mean dead and unmoving.

I normally associate water with adventure — because I love to play at the beach, paddle in my canoe or kayak, or simply sit by or walk along a waterfront. The summer time invites this anticipation and excitement for being by, on, or in the water.

At very least, life with God is an Adventure! And one of the major characteristics of an adventure is: you don’t always get what you expect; an adventure takes you places you never thought you’d go; things are always changing; there’s always more than you expected. Remember, Jesus told his disciples that they would do even greater things than he himself accomplished (John 14:12).

Like confirmation.

Confirmation is more than you think! Did you ever learn this camp song? “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea …. there’s a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea …. there’s a bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea …. there’s a frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea … there’s a wart on the frog on the bump on the log in hole in the bottom of the sea … there’s a fly on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea … there’s a flea on the fly on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea …”

Did you every learn this silly campfire song? At first glance, it looks like a simple, straightforward hole. But as soon as you dive into the waters towards that one hole in the bottom of the sea, all of a sudden you discover so much more there! More questions, more possibilities, more perspectives … more adventure!

We often think questions at Confirmation are directed solely to the confirmands; but I have a question today for the adults in the room: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word, “Confirmation”? You may think back to your Confirmation: what first comes to mind?

Now, to the Confirmands: Let’s reflect over the past two years and recall some of the things we did in Confirmation learning: a visit to the funeral home; a visit to the Pentecostal Tabernacle on a Sunday morning; serving at the local soup kitchen; a visit to Holy Trinity Anglican Church for worship; cleaning up the cemetery; reading your favourite bible stories to the class and parents from the pulpit; ushering, acolyting, reading bible lessons in mid-week Lenten services; serving food during mid-week Lenten services and Oktoberfest supper; going on a scavenger hunt for bible messages hidden throughout this whole building; writing tests while sitting quietly in the pews of this sanctuary before Christmas; sitting in silence and prayer around the lighted paschal candle, listening to Christian music; classes together with parents/grandparents in Parish Hall …..

Confirmation is not something that happens merely in a classroom downstairs. It’s much more than that. You probably didn’t expect confirmation to turn out the way it did when you started a couple of years ago, eh? Welcome to the Adventure of Life!

An adventure is about the journey, not the destination.

The process of learning is multi-faceted and ongoing. Confirmation is not so much about the destination, it’s about the journey. There’s Jethro Gibbs, NCIS team leader, the “boss”, building his boat in his basement. Do you watch NCIS on TV? He builds at least three boats over the course of the series. Everyone always asks him how he gets a finished boat out of the basement — because the boats are large and take up most of the room in the relatively small basement room where he works. But we never really know how he gets those boats out; he never really gives anyone a straight answer. We just always see him building that boat.

Confirmation is not just about today — the destination — as important as it is. It’s more about the journey that brought you here, and will continue beyond today.

The church, like confirmation, is more than we think. A financial institution I do my banking at has a slogan printed on it’s bank machines: “You’re richer than you think!” It’s a statement of faith, isn’t it? Funny how the world of business and banking encourages us to a way of thinking that moves us beyond what is immediately apparent. The church has been preaching this from the beginning. Church is a lot bigger than what you see on the outside.

Did you ever watch Dr. Who on TV, and his telephone booth time-travelling space-craft? On the outside it looks like any other-sized telephone booth — small! Large enough for only one person to stand in it. But when you step inside it, it is a huge building complete with control centre and living quarters. On the outside the church looks like a building — fancy at that. But the church is much bigger than that. It is a people called out to think big, to do great things for God, to let God’s light shine through us to enlighten the whole world. We let God’s light shine through us by being who we are, each of us unique, precious, beloved.

The last module of learning in Confirmation focused on the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Fascinating to see how differently we approach this complex and often dumbfounding concept of one God in three persons. God the Father — his job is to create us; God the Son (Jesus) — his job is to save us; God the Holy Spirit — her job is to empower us. One God in three persons. We looked through several magazines and clipped out pictures to demonstrate what each of us felt related to the function of each of the three persons of God.

And the various photos we chose represent our individual interpretations of the work of the Triune God. These expressions and interpretations are as diverse as each of us are. “Now, there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varities of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12).  Indeed, we are richer than we think!

God has gifted each one of you in a unique and special way for God’s good purposes and for the common good. Because all of these interpretations, and various services and activities when taken together, as a whole, brings us closer to the truth. Not one, but all of the diverse expressions of faith that we are, together, reflects God’s will and God’s truth.

All of who you will be someday, grown up, you already have within you. God has given you a great gift, planted within your heart, the seed of faith and the Holy Spirit. We need only to learn to be open to that gift, and to experience God’s love first hand. That is our task in life.

And when the waters get too turbulent for us to handle and we feel our boat will sink, don’t forget: Jesus stands at the shore watching us; and when we need him, he won’t just stand at a distance; he will jump right in there, swim to us, and hold us through the storm. Life is an adventure; the life of faith is always moving us like that river to reach out to all the world in the love of Jesus.

About raspberryman

I am a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, serving a parish in Ottawa Ontario. I am a husband, father, and admirer of the Ottawa Valley. I enjoy beaches, sunsets and waterways. I like to write, reflect theologically and meditate in the Christian tradition.
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