A sermon preached by Pastor Robert Schaefer
First & Spring Creek Lutheran Churches
Confirmation Sunday – June 13, 2004
Text: Galatians 2:19-20
Friends in Christ, and especially my dear young brothers and sisters, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today is such an important day. It is a day when six of our young men and women have chosen to stand before us and confess that they share our faith. It is also a day when we as a congregation honor their work and studies, their struggles with doubt and their triumph in faith. Trent, Matt, Heather, Troy, Randa, Mandi – you are all here this morning because Jesus has been at work in your lives. We can see that he’s doing great things through you, and we are so proud to call you our brothers and sisters in Christ. Congratulations today, as you affirm your baptisms.
Last night I was out late, and by the time I got back home it was already well past sundown. The sky was dark and clear, just a few clouds off to the east, and I could see what must have been hundreds or even thousands of stars shining overhead. Staring up into space last night, I thought about how beautiful all these galaxies were, and about how many they were. I thought about all of the stunning worlds there must be out there that you and I have never seen, and will never even know of. God’s creation stretches out from us as far as we can imagine, and no matter how wonderful it seems looking at it from the backyard, I promise you that you don’t even know the half of it!
And in a universe full of amazing places, do you know where Jesus has chosen to make his home? That’s right. Within each of you sitting in front of me. Scripture tells that you confirmands have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer you who live, but it is Christ who lives in you. Out of all the places Jesus could choose to call his home, he has chosen you. You are where Jesus lives, right now, at this very moment. But being the home of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, isn’t an honor without its challenges. Think about it – when Jesus lives inside you, the Bible says that you no longer are the one who’s living at all! It’s all Jesus. That’s tough to hear, and tougher to understand.
You’re at an age where you’re starting to discover some things about yourself. As you try out new classes, new hobbies and new experiences, you’re getting an idea what are your talents, and what aren’t. You’ve already learned an awful lot about what your values are, what things you believe in, and what things upset you. Each of you comes to the table with a different set of gifts. Your hopes and your dreams are becoming more and more your very own with each year that passes. You’re becoming the individual young men and women whom we love so much.
And so it’s hard for you to understand what it means for you that ever since the day of your baptism, your life has been Jesus’ life and not your own. Does that mean that you’re all supposed to be clones of each other, carbon copies that have no personality at all? Does it mean that Jesus overpowers you and makes you into robot he can control? If you no longer live, but Jesus makes his home in you, living there inside, are you really you at all?
Let me try to help.
First of all, I want you to know that Jesus loves you. He loves the individual people that you are. He knows your quirks, and he gave you your gifts. What he did on the cross, he didn’t do for an idea or for an anonymous crowd of people – he did it for Troy and Trent and Matt and Randa and Mandi and Heather. Jesus loves you as a unique person, one-of-a-kind in his whole universe. Whatever it means to have Jesus living in you, it certainly doesn’t mean he throws out all the wonderful stuff about you that he loved enough to die for!
Instead, I think it’s more like a thorough cleaning. When my friend Shawn and I were looking for a place to live in St. Paul, we visited several condos and townhouses, and even an apartment or two. The place Shawn finally bought – the one that he and I liked the best – was filled with a lot of junk. The couple who were selling the place still lived there, and let’s just say that their taste in decorating wasn’t what we had in mind! But the house…Shawn looked around, and he knew it was right for him. He liked the yard. He liked the kitchen. He liked the finished basement. Even though he didn’t care for the knick-knacks that the current owners had hung all over the place, he knew that this house had all of the things he was looking for in a first home. He bought it, because he knew that when he moved in the old stuff would be cleaned out of there.
When Jesus bought you and moved in, you weren’t perfect. Some of the things that you’d hung on the walls were pretty ugly, to be honest. Some of them were dark, and some of them were outright evil. But underneath all the junk – the sin of your life – Jesus saw some things in you that he really, truly loved. Moving in was the best way for him to clear the clutter out of your life and help you become a perfect home for him.
And there’s something else you need to know – Jesus is going to live forever. It’s so obvious that it’s hard not to laugh when the preacher says it from the pulpit…but think about what that means for you: Jesus is going to live forever, and you’re where he’s chosen to live out his life. That means you’ve got forever stamped on your forehead, my friends. You’re bought and paid for – you’re Jesus’, and he intends to keep you his whole life.
There’s nothing you can do about that. All the paperwork’s been taken care of; all the legal hassle is done. It was finished the moment you were baptized. Ever since, you’ve belonged to Jesus, and already we can see what wonderful things he’s been up to in your life. No, there’s nothing at all you can do about it. Jesus lives in you. All you can do is to stand up and say, “Amen! Thank you, Lord Jesus!”
That’s exactly what you’re here to do today. That’s exactly what it means to be confirmed.
May Jesus fill you up with blessing after blessing, so that the life you live in him may be full of joy, faith and service. Congratulations, my friends.