Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Today is an incredibly special day, for today we celebrate the Confirmation of Arleigh Dackermann, and following this sermon and hymn we will proceed with her Affirmation of Baptism. Thus, I would like to give a message to Arleigh.
On April 2nd, 2006, you were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Through Baptism, you have been blessed with the faith in God and were received into the fold of the heavenly family of God, received into the Body of Christ. Through Baptism, an act of God and not of Man, through water and the Word, you have been truly blessed, for you were washed of your sins which originates from original sin, broken free from the chains of slavery under Satan, and was provided the promise of salvation and a seat at the heavenly kingdom’s feast, a promise that can never be broken, a promise that is gifted to you, a promise that was given through the death of Jesus Christ.
Now through Baptism, the family of God promised to help raise you within the Church united with your parents. They have looked over you, taught you, and guarded you. It is said, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and for us that village is the family of God. We have watched you, an infant in Christ, grow in faith, and as we looked over you, we taught you through Catechism; teaching the faith so that you may come to understand scripture, the creeds, the Lord’s prayers, the Ten Commandments, as well as the sacraments. The Small Catechism was taught to you so that you may understand this faith which you have received through Baptism, so that you may understand what Baptism is, and so you may understand and have faith in the promises that God provided to you through your Baptism.
And as the Church taught you, they saw you grow in maturity in your faith, coming to understand your faith. As they saw your maturity in Christ growing, they had confidence that you understood the true presence of Christ in the Bread and the Wine of Communion. Through their confidence, they invited you to the table to receive with the Church your first Communion. Through Communion, or the Eucharist, and through your faith in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, you received the sustenance necessary to retain your faith. For Communion is our Daily Bread necessary to fuel or faith in Christ, to nourish not only or Body but to also nourish our aching souls which without Christ would surely fail in retaining faith in Christ. Communion is a gift that is received through faith, for without faith, communion is not communion. Thus, once your teachers and parents and congregation saw you were ready to receive, that you believed, they gladly invited you to the table to receive your Daily Bread.
And now, as a member of the Body of Christ through Baptism, and one who is nourished through Communion, matured through Catechism, you come forward to affirm your faith, to affirm your faith which comes through Baptism, thus affirming your Baptism. For this is what Confirmation is, it is the Affirmation of your Baptism, a declaration, a confession, that you understand your Baptism and your faith which comes from Baptism. On this day you will renounce the Devil, proclaim the Creeds, and profess your faith in Jesus Christ and in all his promises.
So a little quiz… Oh, I know, not another quiz! It’s all right; this isn’t a quiz with trick questions. In your Catechism, you learned of the Sacraments. How many are there? Two. What are they? Baptism and Communion. But where is Confirmation? Is it still a sacred act ordered by God? Yes. But is it a Sacrament? No, for in order to be Sacrament, in accordance with Catholic teaching, it needs to have the power to save or retain faith, of which Confirmation does not do. Does this mean that Confirmation is not important? Far from it, it is still a sacred act. End of Quiz.
So what does that make Confirmation? Confirmation is not Baptism, which many confuse them to be the same and thus wait for people to affirm their faith to perform Baptism, not understanding that Confirmation is in reality the affirming of your faith which you received through Baptism. Whereas Baptism is an act of God, Confirmation is an act of Man. In Baptism, God externally gives you faith. In Confirmation, you acknowledge this faith within you which was externally given to you first from God. This acknowledgement and understanding is deeply important for the sake of holding fast onto our own faith.
In Jesus’ parable he talks about the rocky and good soil. There is the pathway and the thorn infested soil, but for the sake of this sermon I want to talk about the rocky and good soil. In the rocky soil, the plant grows fast, but because it does not develop deep roots it withers away just as fast. Yet, in the good soil, deep roots grow, and because the plant has deep roots it is capable of weathering any storm and not wither away from the beating sun. The main difference between the two is the deepness and strength of their roots. So what are these roots? What do these roots represent? These roots represent your understanding, your discipleship, the strength of your faith, and the ability to discern your faith. The difference between the two soils is that the first is not properly discipled and, because they are not, when the world beats them off side the head with a myriad of trials and temptations and awful things such as persecution, the one with weak roots loses their faith and crumbles under the weight of the world. But the soil that is good, where roots are deep and strong, no matter what the world throws at them, they are capable of defending their own faith.
This is why Catechism is so important and why we cherish Confirmation, for through catechism and discipleship you are lead towards maturity in your own faith, and through this maturity you have been lead towards affirming your faith which you received first through Baptism. But it should be noted, your journey has not ended. We are all in need of continual catechism, our discipleship in our Lord has never ended, and our faith in Him could always go a little deeper.
Arleigh, for your confirmation you have provided a verse from Isaiah 40:31, “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” As you walk in the light of the Lord, walk in faith, faith in the promises provided for you through Baptism, walk with abundant patience in Christ. Don’t be like the rocky soil whose plant grows impatiently and withers away, but be like the plant in the good soil which through patience grows deep roots, roots that will never allow the plant to die. Wait on the Lord, and keep on reflecting on Him, so that your faith in the Lord is continually renewed and given the strength and vigor to not only weather any storm but to also be mounted on eagle’s wings, to never go weary, and never faint or falter. Rely on the Lord always, have patience on Him, deepen your roots through continuous discipleship and catechism, and know this, the Living Lord, who died for your sake and has risen for your sake, will always be with you.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, we ask that you continue to bless Arleigh with your Spirit, protecting her faith, and encouraging her to not only profess and affirm her faith, but to continue to deepen her faith in you the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.