Date: May 20, 2012
Title: “Seeing By Heart”
Preaching: The Rev. Donna M.L. Pritchard
Scripture: Ephesians 1:15-23
So today is Confirmation Sunday, and I am reminded of an old joke. It seems that once there was this preacher, who was having a terrible time with rabbits in his garden. The preacher tried everything to get rid of the rabbits – from fences to traps – and nothing worked. The rabbits just kept coming back to feast on his garden.
One day, the preacher hit upon a brilliant idea. He got up in the morning, put on his robe, put on his stole, went out to the garden, and confirmed all those rabbits. And of course, he never saw them again!
I tell you this to tell you – Confirmands – we will be watching for you! You are now a part of us, and we are a part of you. If you are not here, we are diminished. We miss you because we love you. And we need you. You remember how this congregation promised to love you, encourage you, pray for you, and learn from you. It is not a one-way street. You are a part of us. And we are a part of you.
The English poet, Samuel Butler, once remarked, “Life is like playing a violin solo in public…and learning the instrument as you go along!” It’s true, I think. Haven’t you ever felt like you were singled out, asked to play a solo, when in fact, you are only learning to play?
I think of those times when family relationships get a little sticky, when conflict is in the air, if not openly on the table…and you and I are just tuning up our instruments. Or what about those times at school, or with your friends, when you have to make ethical choices, when you have to decide what is right and what is wrong. And you do so, knowing that sometimes those decisions are going to impact your own life, or the life of your friends…. even if you are still struggling to figure out how to hold the bow.
And then there are those occasions right here in this congregation, when we know God is asking us to sow peace, or to offer love and forgiveness in real and tangible ways…but we are afraid of breaking a string, missing a beat, or playing the wrong note altogether. Life is like playing a violin solo in public, and we have no choice but to learn as we go along!
So thank God for Confirmation! Thank God for this reminder of God’s Spirit which breaks into each of our lives. Thank God for this community, which supports us and encourages us to start our solos and to keep playing, learning as we go along.
The prayer we read from Ephesians this morning is an astounding prayer. It asks that we might know hope – the kind of hope to which God calls us. It asks that we might know ourselves in relationship with Christ. It asks that we might know our inheritance in the faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But what is truly amazing is this…it is not about praying for us to receive all these things. It is a prayer that asks that we might know what we have already received.
So one more story for Confirmation. This one is a little bit more poignant than those rabbits. And I hope it is a little more real for us. One day a child gets lost in the city. She runs up and down the streets, but cannot find a single familiar landmark, and she has no idea how to get home. She becomes increasingly frantic, and frightened, until finally a policeman sees her and stops to help. Putting her in the passenger seat of his car, the policeman drives around with the child, up one street and down another, hoping that eventually she will see something that helps her know where home is found.
Finally, the child sees a church, and she tells the police officer to stop, as she goes on in a firm and quiet voice, “You can let me out now. This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here.”
Friends, no matter how bad we might be feeling, no matter how lost or alone, lonely or frightened or frantic we might become… when we see the faces of our brothers and sisters at church, when we hear their voices, when we recognize their gifts… we can always find our way home.
To those being confirmed today I say “Congratulations!” You are now considered an adult in this church. The perks (I know you’ve been waiting to hear this) include voting in meetings and serving as leaders, adding your vision to what this church is called to do and to be, helping this church to share God’s love and transform the world as you bring your prayers, your gifts, your presence, your service and your witness to this family of faith.
But most of all, being confirmed means knowing this is your church. And you can always find your way home from here. Thanks be to God! Amen.