Sermon for the 21st Sunday after Pentecost 
(Proper 22 - Confirmation)

Text: Psalm 26:3
Your constant love is my guide; your faithfulness always leads me.

Our confirming God.

Carmen, Billy, Tim and James and friends worshipping here at St Lukeís today.

When I read the short summaries the confirmees wrote about themselves, I noted with special interest the kinds of things they are involved in.
Carmen is a member of school band, and plays in a volleyball team which I understand is doing very well.
Billy has received a special award in the Airforce Cadets.
Tim is involved in competitions at school and plays tennis.
James plays soccer and his team has won three grand finals in a row.

Doing well in these activities indicates that you have been dedicated to doing your best. There has been no half-hearted approach.
You go to every practice and training session.
You do your best.
You are proud to be a part of the team, or orchestra, or cadet company and you are happy to be involved.
In order to achieve your best, you listen carefully to the person in charge Ė the coach, bandleader, and cadet leader Ė in order to learn new skills so that you can do even better.
You may have even sacrificed other activities in order to be involved.
In short, you have been committed. Even when the team isnít playing particularly well, or the band is off-key, or you just donít feel like going to cadets, you still do your best because you are committed.

What does it mean to be committed?
It means - to regard one thing as more important than anything else.
It involves sacrifice Ė giving of your time, your skills, your energy to get the best result possible.
It means persistence Ė that means to keep on trying even though you make lots of mistakes.
It involves dedication, loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness. A soccer player wouldnít be very committed if he went and played for the opposition who happened to be having a winning streak.

Let me tell you a story about commitment, dedication and persistence. A little girl who had a disease called polio that left her left leg crooked and her foot twisted inward so she had to wear leg braces. After seven years of painful therapy, she could walk without her braces. At age 12, she tried out for a girlsí basketball team, but didn't make it. Determined, she practiced with some friends every day. The next year she made the team. Then she took up athletics and soon could outrun most other runners. When she did lose this made her train all the harder and in the Olympic Games she won three gold medals.

This morning Carmen, Billy, Tim and James are making a public commitment to God, and Iím sure they mean 100% of what they say. And Iím sure there isnít a parent or godparent or family member, or member of the congregation, who isnít committed to doing whatever he/she can to help these young people to be true to their commitment to God this day. There is nothing that makes us Ďoldiesí (ie. all those older than 25) happier than to see young people commit to Jesus, and mean it, and follow it through.

I believe you when you say that you want to be make following Jesus the most important thing that you want to do in life, but I also know that for some of you it will easier than for others. Now and right through the rest of your life a whole lot of pressures will make it hard for you to commit yourself to following Jesus. We adults know because we have experienced this ourselves. We have fine intentions but itís hard to live up to what we say. We mean to be committed but donít always live up to it. Our own sinful nature and other people lead us astray and away from doing what God wants. So what are we going to do when this happens Ė when our commitment to Jesus falls in a heap?

So today, on your confirmation day, we want to do more than just focus on your commitment to God. I want to point you away from yourselves and your feelings and your own personal response, important as these are, and I want to point you to the God you promise to follow. By far the greater emphasis in this service today is on what God is doing for you and will continue to do for you in the future. In fact, there would be no reason at all for committing yourselves to God if he hadnít first of all committed himself to you.

Iím sure there is no doubt in your minds that your parents are committed to you. How do you know this?
Arenít there times when you frustrate them?
Perhaps disobey them?
Make them angry?
Do things that upset them and make them feel disappointed?
So why are they still committed to keep on caring for you and guiding you?
Why do they worry about you; pay out heaps of money for you; comfort you when you are hurt; encourage you to join sports teams when they know that they will spend a good deal of their own time driving you to and fro.
Why donít we ask them?

Because they love you. Would I be right in saying that their love for you is so strong that they canít stop loving you? Sure. I would say that even if you did something that was really bad and hurt them a great deal, they would not be able to stop loving you.

If parents can love like that, then can you imagine how much God loves us? Multiply your parentís love for you a million times and you would still fall short of describing God's love for you.

How do we know that God loves us? In much the same way you know that your parents love you Ė by what they say and do for you.
How does God tell us he loves us? He says in the Bible that his love for us will never stop.
What has God done that shows us how much he loves us?
God's commitment to us was so great that he sent Jesus. He died on a cross, rose again from the dead to give us forgiveness of all our sin and eternal life. He didnít have to do all that, but he did it because he loves us.

God's commitment to you is on going. At your baptism, Jesus made a commitment to you to be your friend through all and every situation that life brings. He made a commitment to love you and to forgive you, to answer your prayers, to give you a place in heaven, to be there for you and bless you as you make important decisions like:
What shall I do with my life?
Who will I marry?
What is the right thing to do?
How can I cope with this sickness or tragedy?
How shall I face the death of a loved one?
At every corner, especially those dark corners he will be there, he has committed himself to that because of his love for you.

This is all very important to remember. If we only focussed on your commitment to God today, then what would happen when you are not as committed as you would like to be? You might say that Iím not going to fail, but talk to some of the adults or to other young people who have been here before you, ask them how they have gone. You see, thatís why I want to focus on the kind of God you have.

Today you are confirming the faith that first began when your parents brought you to be baptised. Your parents have nurtured your faith in God to the best of their ability as imperfect as that might have been at times. But today God is repeating Ė confirming Ė his commitment to you.
"I will never give up on you.
My love is too strong to forget you, Carmen and Billy.
Iím always there for you Tim and James. I am always ready to help you.
I am committed 100% to you."

He says that to all of us. When these young people are confirmed in a moment, join with them and renew your commitment to God, and as God blesses them bow your head to receive his blessing. Open up yourself to God's confirmation of you as his child and bask in his love that is as strong as ever even though he knows all your weaknesses and what kind of person you are. Our God is a confirming God.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
13th October
, 2002

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Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from Good News Bible: Today's English Version (TEV), revised edition, © American Bible Society 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992, 1994, inclusive language with Australian usage text, 1994 
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