To all of you who participated in Confirmation this year, thank you.
Thank you for your honesty and your questions and your openness and your willingness to listen.
Maybe you participated in Confirmation this year because you had questions about God and faith and church and there are not many other places to ask those questions so you gave it a try. Or, maybe you did it because that is what you are supposed to do when you are in 9th grade and you are a part of this church. Or, maybe you did it because your parents told you to. Or, maybe you did it for some other reason or some combination of all those reasons.
It may not have felt this way to you during the year or even feel this way to you today, but what you did was risky. I say that because, it seems to me, to be easier to either…
- To discount the idea of God all together and to consider religion a crutch;
- Or, to think about God and religion in only the narrowest of terms which leaves little to no room for questions or doubts or seeing things in new ways;
- Or, think of religion and faith only as a list of rules to follow or God as a nice idea to pull out when needed and to put on a shelf when not.
To take the idea of God seriously as something more than an old man in the sky and to think about who Jesus was and how he lived and what he taught and to consider what it might mean to follow Jesus in ways beyond childhood stereotypes is risky. Because when you do all that you might just find yourself thinking about your life and your world and your responsibility and your relationship to others just a bit differently.
This year, we did our best to invite you to think for yourselves and to ask your questions and to listen to the ideas and insights of others. We did our best to challenge you and to engage you in a conversation that we hope did help you to think about God and Jesus and the Bible and faith a bit differently. And, as you continue to think through and to sort out what you believe and what difference that will make in your life, I want you to know, that while we are far from perfect, those who gather around you today think that what we know and name as God matters. And that while we don’t come close to having all the answers and we may get it wrong more than we get it right, we do our best to take what we believe and allow it to influence what we do and don’t do, and to allow it to shape the hopes we have for our lives, our families, our communities and our world. I hope, when you remember this day, you remember that a community of people who cared about you and who take God seriously surrounded you and stood with you.
But, back to the risky business of taking God seriously and taking following Jesus seriously. This past week, a friend reminded me of this reflection written by an author named Frederick Buechner. It is titled: Under a Delusion. I think it fits with today. Buechner writes:
If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter.
The world says, ‘Mind your own business.’
Jesus says, ‘There is no such thing as your own business.’
The world says, ‘Follow the wisest course and be a success.’
Jesus says, ‘Follow me.’
The world says, ‘Drive carefully – the life you save may be your own.’
Jesus says, ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it. And whoever loses his life for the sake of another will save it.’
The world says, ‘Law and order.’
Jesus says, ‘Love.’
The world says, ‘Get.’
Jesus says, ‘Give.’
In terms of the world’s sanity, Jesus is as crazy as a coot, and anyone who thinks he or she can follow Jesus without being a bit crazy is laboring under a delusion.
Are you up for that?
Up for risking taking God seriously enough and taking following Jesus seriously enough even when it means being just a bit crazy? When it means things like…
- Treating others exactly how you would like to be treated…even if you don’t like them and even if they treat you badly?
- And, practicing kindness in what you do and how you live?
- And, seeking justice which has something to do with making the world in which we live a better and safer and healthier and more equitable not just for yourself, but for all.
- And, doing the hard work of building more bridges than walls.
Are you up for risky business of taking God seriously and taking following Jesus seriously when it means…
- Not just getting, but giving
- Not just keeping, but sharing
- Not just thinking about yourself or looking out for yourself, but thinking about others and looking out for their well-being, as well.
I hope so.
Because I am convinced that is what…
You are what…
Our schools and our communities and our world needs.
So, in the end, I think that is what Confirmation is all about.
Risking God and following Jesus.