31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
August 9, 2020
2 Timothy 1:5-7
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Back in the wintertime, when this Confirmation group began their last unit in a two year Confirmation journey, I joked that we liked them too much to let them go, that we were just going to keep them indefinitely.
As Lisa Humerick, Donna Katsaounis, and I walked this Confirmation journey with these five outstanding Confirmands, each of them intelligent, athletic, service-oriented, faithful, and conversational, basically a Confirmation teacher’s dream, our discussions were lively and interesting. They were faithful and faith-filled. We really would have come up with any excuse to keep gathering with them on Sunday evenings.
However, no matter how tempting that might be, for such a time as this, we need Confirmation. We need confirmations and baptisms, birthday celebrations and all of the other rites of passage that mark time, that help us remember that we are always moving forward on this journey of life and this journey of faith.
Because Christianity is a way. Jesus’ earliest followers did not call themselves Christians. They called themselves followers of The Way because they understood that following Jesus is not about what you think. It’s not about what you believe. Following Jesus is a journey. It’s about how we live, the way we live.
Way to Live is actually the name of the resource we used for Confirmation as we explored how our relationships with Jesus Christ influence our whole lives. Because being a Christian isn’t just about how we live on Sundays. Walking the Way of Jesus Christ is how we live every day. It is about daily choices and every day actions.
Walking the Way of Jesus Christ is about the spiritual practices of worship, study, service, and prayer. And walking the Way of Jesus Christ is also about our relationships with friends, food, and stuff. It’s about how we practice forgiveness and truth, justice and welcome. It’s about how we work and how we play.
This journey of faith is made up of little every day moments that connect us with God, that ground us in God. Daily prayer, especially in the midst of pandemic or tropical storms. A practice of devotion that helps us turn to God and trust God a little bit more every day. Kindness and patience with those near and dear to us. Kindness and patience with our selves. Sharing chainsaws and rakes, paper towels and canned goods, school supplies and pasta with our neighbors in need.
The Way of Jesus Christ is traveled one step at a time. By taking a deep breath and turning our anxiety and frustration over to God instead of to the person in front of us. By understanding our time and money as instruments to be used in care of ourselves and others. By seeing creation and our own bodies as wonderfully made by God and caring for them as God calls us to. By being unafraid to grieve, to turn our sorrows and our sadness over to God and others. By embracing the new, being creative, craftsy, artistic, and imaginative.
We discussed all of these things and more during Confirmation classes because following Jesus is not about what you think or even about what you believe. Our Christian faith is about how we live. The Way of Jesus Christ is about the ordinary every day steps that connect us with God, that ground us in God.
And the Way of Jesus Christ is also about significant moments, moments when we pause and reflect on the way we have come, reflect on our relationship with God and Jesus Christ, reflect on the way ahead.
Today, these five Confirmands will confirm their baptisms and claim the faith of Jesus Christ, the Way of Jesus Christ for their own. This is a significant moment in their lives and also in the lives of their parents, godparents, and families who promised long ago to nurture these Confirmands’ relationship with God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. This is a time to reflect on their own relationship with God and how it has enabled them to nurture another on this journey of faith.
This is a significant moment for all of us because in this rite of Confirmation, we also have the opportunity to reflect upon those moments when we have committed to the Way of Jesus Christ. This Confirmation Sunday is an opportunity for us to reflect upon our relationships with God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, to discern what it means to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ and the United Church of Christ. This is an opportunity for us to rekindle the gift of God that is within us and reclaim our God given gifts of power, self-discipline, and love.
Today, we join the Confirmands in making these vows to faithfully follow the Way of Jesus Christ, every day growing more and more in our relationship with the God of love we know through Jesus Christ.
For such a time as this, we need the every day moments that connect us with God, that ground us in God, that move us forward on our Christian faith journeys, and we need the significant moments, the rites of passage, that help us reflect on where God has been on our journey of life and faith so we can follow where God is leading us next.
For such a time as this, we need this Way because despite feeling that our lives have been put on hold by this pandemic, they have not. The Church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual movement. The Christian faith is a journey. Grounded in God, secure in Christ’s love, we are always moving forward, always growing, always claiming and reclaiming our spiritual gifts, always following Jesus.