“New Kid’s On the Block” | Confirmation Sunday
1 Thessalonians 1:2-6
Rev. Mark M. Vickers
April 17, 2016
1 Thessalonians 1:2-6: 2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we know, brothers and sisters[a] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
We did it! We ALL made it through Confirmation! I cannot say anything except that this has been one of the most enjoyable points of ministry in my life! I have helped with Confirmation classes in the past, I have led Confirmation classes in the past, but I can honestly say that I have never had a class that was so engaged, so smart, and bonded so well. Now, the fact we had five confirmands, great Friends in Faith, great supportive parents, and a congregation that prayed unceasingly for these young people, never hurt. In fact, it speaks directly to what our text speaks about this morning. Not confirmation per say, but the desire, the need, and the certainty that the church needs strong believers.
If we take a close look at Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians’ it is really a continual story of faith. It is a continual journey to bring people into the fold, not unlike the journey we are on here today. Just look at the first line, “We always thank God for all of you and remember you continually in our prayers.” Sound familiar? Over the past 6 months this congregation has been lifting up these young people who have made the decision to become a part of St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church. We have remembered them through their study, their fun, their faith journeys. Just as Paul suggests to those in Thessalonica, “remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is exactly what our confirmands have done. They have been engaged in the work of faith through a labor of love and everyone hoped that this day would come in order that all would be one.
The uniqueness of the church is that we come together in so many different ways. We join together by profession of faith, transfer, conviction of the heart, and sometimes simply because we are pressured to do so. The great gift that God has given us, as Paul iterates, is the gift we often take for granted. It is a gift that we shy away from because we are human. That gift is the fact that God has “chosen us.” You five didn’t know that God had chosen you for this day, did you? I didn’t know when I was confirmed that I had been chosen either. It was only after the fact that it became evident that God had a purpose for me. In Paul’s letter this morning, he clues us in on how God chooses us. It’s not like numbering off and the 1’s go here and the 2’s go there; it is being chosen by the Holy Spirit. Yet, it doesn’t stop there for Paul, he says, “It is with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.”
You see, Confirmation is not just about the Confirmation Class, but it is about the Church! It is about what the Church does for those whom they love and care for! Paul, just like those of us here at St. Timothy’s, was concerned that those who followed Christ would do it for the right reason even when things were difficult. Even when life became dark and scary. Even when life was uncertain. Paul, and those of us here, want you Confirmands to come into the fold of St. Timothy’s and remain strong and faithful until you have to change your membership. We want you to come into the fold and become active leaders and participants in the church. I have no doubt that you will, as those who preceded you in Confirmation have done so.
You have chosen to be a part of the Confirmation Class of 2016, but in your choosing, God has chosen you! God has chosen you to be a part of our family here and now! For that I rejoice!! Being sort of like the Apostle Paul, I feel a sense of gratitude that I have faithful people under my watch. I have a group of faithful people who take care of each other, who love each other, support each other, and will assist each other in the faith we so love. Luke, Drew, Ben, Adam, Greta: you all have made me a joyous minister!! For you have come a long way in six months. From a shy group who wouldn’t make eye contact on that first meeting to a bunch of ruthless, loving individuals who picked out a human to belittle in a great game of UNO last weekend. You have come full circle. You have become family; you have become part of the big family we call St. Timothy’s! I welcome you along with all the people here who welcome you into the greatest family of God I know!