Today is the 34th anniversary of my confirmation. I don’t remember too many of the specifics from that day. I remember getting all dressed up and I remember that we had our pictures taken when it was all over. This was a milestone that at the time seemed way more important to my parents than it did to me. Now, I recognize for myself how the promises made have been important in my life. These words asked by the pastor hold especially true:
You have made public profession of your faith. Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in Holy Baptism:
to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear his Word and share in his supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?
We each responded:
I do, and I ask God to help and guide me.
The Gospel lessons from John both last week and this week point to the importance of being connected to Christ Jesus. Yesterday was the vine and branches and on Sunday we will be told to “abide in Christ’s love.” These many months of the pandemic have left many feeling disconnected. You may read those promises above and recognize that keeping those promises has been a struggle. And yet, each one of you is still connected to the vine that is Jesus Christ. The Gospel for Sunday begins, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” Not only are we to be connected to Jesus, we are also to be connected to one another, we all abide in the same vine.
As I look back on my confirmation, as a 14-year-old, I had no idea what I was committing myself to. But to me, as important as the promises are, the response is just as important. Not the “I do” but the second part, “and I ask God to help and guide me.” Whether we recognize our connection to the vine or that we abide in Christ’s love, we have a relationship with the one from whom all things flow. We have a relationship with God. When was the last time you asked for God to help and to guide you? But also, what have you done to listen for God’s response? God speaks to us when we live among God’s faithful people (this works by phone, Zoom or even social media), God speaks when we hear the Word and share in Christ’s supper, God speaks through us when we proclaim the good news through our words and deeds, God speaks when we serve all people, God speaks when we strive for justice and peace.
We have an active connection to God, we are being fed through the vine and fed through Christ’s love for us. We are called to bear fruit, we are called to love one another, not because we can do these things on our own but because Christ is at work in us. When we ask God to help and guide us, we will be called in faith to be God’s people in this world and to live out the promises that we have made to God, as God fulfills the promises made to us. In what ways have you lived out the covenant God made with you in Baptism during this pandemic?
God’s Peace, Pastor Steve