This weekend we will be celebrating the Confirmation of five 8th Graders. These students have completed the Catechism Course of Study and are ready to become Communicant Members of Trinity Lutheran Church. A few days ago they went through their public examination. They were certainly nervous as they sat in front of the gathered congregation and shared their faith by answering all those questions.
Even though they were nervous to answer those questions in front of an audience, they were still in a very safe environment. Everyone there was supporting them as they did their best to answer. They were surrounded by fellow Christians who wanted them to do well. After the Confirmation service on Sunday, they will have difficulty as their spiritual enemies try to destroy their faith. They will encounter people who question them about their faith and those people will not always be nice about it. Some of those people may be hostile toward Christianity. These five Confirmands will need help so that they can remain faithful in a world that often opposes the Christian faith.
If they remain faithful throughout their entire lives, they will receive the crown of eternal life. They will receive this reward not because of their own power and works. They will receive this reward because Jesus earned that crown for them through his perfect life and innocent death on the cross. That crown is there for all who believe in Jesus.
We have to remember that being confirmed in the church is not an absolute guarantee that a person will remain faithful. Statistics remind us that many people fall away from the true church. Many people stop coming to church. They don’t think it is necessary. Many people do not read the Bible. They look to other sources for spiritual information. They elevate their own wants and desires above what God wants for them. They begin to think that they are basically good people who will enter eternal life based on their own merits.
These ways of thinking run contrary to the core message of the Bible. The Bible reminds us that we are born sinful. Our natural inclination is toward evil. Therefore we need God’s grace. We need his forgiveness which is earned for us through Jesus. We need our connection to God’s Word and Sacraments so that we can remain strong in this faith. Without God’s Word in our lives, we easily fall away from the truth. We need public worship services so that our faith can be strengthened and so that we can encourage other believers.
My prayer every year at confirmation is that the Holy Spirit bless the children with a strong faith. May the Holy Spirit work in their hearts so that they fully appreciate the grace that they have in Jesus. May he give them sharp consciences so that they recognize their sin and see their need for a Savior. May he lead them back to worship again and again. May he bless them with a faithful heart so that they will receive the Crown of Life.