May 1, 2016: Confirmation Sunday

Text: Romans 8: 31b-32: “If God is or us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Dearly Beloved By Christ and especially you, our newest confirmands:

Life isn’t fair. Life isn’t always fun and games. Life will grind you down. Those facts are not the happy talk you might expect today, but they are true. This is reality. I’ve taught you that there is an unholy trinity arrayed against us as Christians. That unholy trinity is: the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. None of them like God. All of them hate His children, you. And they combine together to trip us up and make us feel forlorn and disliked. You see, evil exists and hates good. Evil tries to tear down our faith and lure us into sin. Evil destroys happy hearts and fills us with sadness and anger against God for not doing more and not shielding us from all the awful stuff that fills the news. Evil always blames God for our troubles instead of us taking responsibility for them.

Many of you have personal Facebook pages, text your friends on a constant basis, and share personal information with others. All of you know that some people on the other end of those messages are downright mean. They mock and belittle you for not going to the party and getting drunk. They say nasty things about how you look or dress. You know it’s a lie. You know they’re totally wrong. But they do it anyway to tear you down and make themselves feel superior. Sad to say, sometimes you take their hatred to heart and give in to them just to get along. This is especially true for young Christians. It’s easier to give in to sin than to resist it. But in the end, that attitude can and will destroy your faith.

That’s why this little lesson from St. Paul is so important for you today. Jesus had a tough time growing up, too. Since He was without sin, we can well imagine how his peers viewed Him as He grew up. No doubt, they mocked Him, called Him a “goody-two-shoes,” tempted Him to get drunk like they did, and some probably tried to get Him to “hook-up” with them to tear down His image as the perfect boy. But, unlike you and me, Jesus was also the true Son of God. He had the power to resist sin and to tell Satan to “leave me alone.” And He did all this so that He could be your perfect twin, the One whose holy life could, would, and has now been given to each of you. And so, to strengthen us in the midst of temptations, Paul now writes: “If God is for us (and He is because Christ proved it), who can be against us? (No one and no thing because God alone is all powerful.) He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all (God the Father sent Jesus to save us from the deadly wages of sin by dying in our place on the cross), how will He not graciously give us all good things?”

It’s all about grace. Our lives revolve around grace, or: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense! When you were baptized God implanted those riches into your heart. Now as you’re confirmed He continues to hand them to you. Let me ask you this: Is anyone richer than God? Of course not. Is anyone stronger than God? No. Is anyone more loving than God? Is anyone wiser than God? Never. So, as God’s child you have riches and power that surpasses anyone else. It is the power to say: No to sin. It is the power to “love your enemies, to pray for those who hate you and make fun of you.” It is the power to ask: “Does Jesus want me to do this?”; and then to put the answer into practice. He has given you the power to honor God instead of selfishly seeking personal glory like the rest of this world.

Elsewhere, Paul writes: “Whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is excellent and praiseworthy, think about these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Today you embark on putting all that into practice. You can do so, only by keeping our little lesson in mind each day: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Everyone here today hopes and prays that such may be your Christian reality until Christ comes to take you into heaven. Amen