Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Menominee - Michigan
October 30, 2016
Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It has been said that in today’s world, the age we live in right now, that we receive and process more information every day; information from television, radio, internet; but that we as individuals, receive and process more information every single day, than people who lived in the dark ages did in their entire lives.
I want you all to take a moment to think about this: we, as individuals, receive and process more information every day than people who lived during the dark ages did in their entire lives.
There’s a lot of different ways that we could go with this little nugget of knowledge, but what I really want us to glean from it is that in order for us to receive and process all of this information, that we have to first compartmentalize it. We have to filter the information that we receive. For example, we have to decide if it has any useful purpose to it. If your history teacher is giving you facts that you may need to know for testing purposes, it is best that you write these facts down and memorize them. If it is dialogue from a Spongebob Squarepants episode, you’re probably going to be better off by not remembering it.
Once you’ve decided whether or not your information has any useful purpose to it, you need to decide if your information is factual or fiction. Is it real, or isn’t it? If it’s not real, trash it. If it is real, you move on to the next step and determine whether or not you can benefit from this knowledge. For example, if you want to know what the weather is going to be like today because you’re going to be outside for much of the day and you see that the forecast calls for rain, that’s a clue that you probably want to pack an umbrella and that you probably won’t have much use for sunscreen on this particular day.
The point that I’m trying to make is that every day you are all inundated with lots of information and you have to take that information and you have to make choices based on it. You’ll make choices that are considered good ones and you’ll make choices that may be called not so good. We call these choices “learning opportunities” in that we learn from them not to make that same choice again.
And for the ten of you who are affirming your baptismal vows today, you are all at an age where you are now becoming accountable for your choices, so you’re learning that it’s important that you make good choices. If you don’t do your homework or study for your tests, chances are you won’t pass the class. If you choose to blow off practice and play video games, you should probably plan on not playing in any games.
And today, on this, your confirmation day, you are each endowed with specific choices to make as well. In fact, they are very mature choices and in a few moments you will come forward to the rail and you will have the opportunity to profess your faith and to verbally affirm the promises that God made with you at your baptism; namely, to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that this is a big responsibility that you are agreeing to here today. Choosing to affirm these promises is not to be taken lightly. It’s a lot that we as the church are asking from you and that you are agreeing to. It will be hard. It will challenge you. It will be a whole lot easier to simply stay home and to let other people take care of doing all of this stuff.
But here’s the thing. We, the church, and God need you, and we know you’re ready because this is what you’ve been preparing for the past two years. Now, I know that a lot of people say that our youth are the future of our church, and yes, they are right about the future of the church. But I want to stress this to you ten: you are just as important to the church right now. Your gifts. Your energy. Your sarcasm. Your knowledge. All of this is important for the church right now.
And not only do we need you right now, but God promises to be there and to guide you each and every day as you participate in your call to ministry, whatever form that ministry takes. And not only does God promise to be there, but Jesus even gives you a blueprint to follow as given to us in today’s gospel lesson. Jesus tells those who believe in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
The truth will make you free. Guys, that right there is all you need to know. With all this information that you take in every day, I encourage you to find the truth that is embedded in it, the truth that is your relationship with Jesus Christ. For when you weed everything else out and you are left with nothing but the truth, it is then that you will have guidance with your choices, choices that will undoubtedly lead you to serve God and to serve one another. But it’s important that you keep your eyes open for the truth, because you will find that your opportunities to serve Christ show up in funny places in funny ways sometimes.
A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it, until he accidentally dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!
Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each one of them contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him.
He’d been on the beach a long time and had thrown 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have had tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!
It’s like that with your Christian calling as well. Every day you’ll have these clay balls rolled out for you as well. They may not have jewels inside, but they do have opportunities for you to serve Christ in the ways that you will affirm today. You will have opportunities in your home, in your school and in your neighborhood. And the last thing that you will want to do is to throw away these opportunities simply because on the outside they don’t look like they’ll benefit you much at all.
But today’s not about what you’ve done or what you’ll get. It’s not about being done with Confirmation. Today’s all about what you will do, doing so in the name of Jesus Christ. Today’s about making choices that will be pleasing to God and are for the benefit of your neighbor. That’s the nugget of truth, and, as Jesus states, the truth sets us free. So, my young friends, enjoy your freedom in Christ. Amen.