The scripture reading that I’ve chosen for today is short and sweet. It is from Paul’s 1st letter to the I Corinthians 13:12. So, please quiet your minds and open your hearts to God’s word:
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Here ends the reading.
First of all, congratulations to all of you. Just about every time I’ve stood on these steps, maybe in front of one of your older brothers or sisters, I’ve said that memorizing all of this is not easy. The Ten Commandments, the 23rd Psalm, the Beatitudes and that song! I know it’s a lot. You deserve all the praise and admiration that your parents, family and friends will give to you today.
The scripture passage I just read is, I think, a little statement to remind us to be humble. In this case, Paul is reminding his congregation in Corinth, and all of us, that even with all the stories we have about God and God’s people, even with the stories of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the words of Jesus himself found in the Gospels, we can only know a little about the God that created us and loves us. The concept of God is huge and though God has given us humans the great sensory gifts of hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste, these together are not enough for us to perceive the fullness of God.
Just a week ago, we celebrated the young men and women of our church who are graduating from high school, many later today! Many of them have been a part of our community of faith since they were kids just like you. Many of them stood right here on these steps and recited the very same verses you just did. They continued on, just as you probably will, to dig deeper into scripture and to try and figure out where their faith fits into their lives. Lots of them will be putting their faith to work in just a couple of weeks, on our annual mission trip, as they follow Jesus’ instructions to care for the least of those among us as if we were caring for Jesus himself.
Out in the pews here today are your parents, family, and friends. Some of them also stood up here on a Sunday similar to this when they were kids (we’ve been doing this a long time here at Kenilworth Union). My guess is they’ve also spent some time in their lives trying to figure out how faith in Jesus makes their lives different, better.
What I’m trying to say is that none of us have all the answers. Though the psalmist tells us that goodness and mercy follow us every day of our lives because God is with us, sometimes that can be hard to be sure about because maybe you look around and see a world that needs plenty more of both goodness and mercy.
Faith can be tough sometimes and it’s OK to think so. So, this morning, I’m asking you not to stop, not to think that by learning and reciting these passages, important as they may be, that you’re done; that you’ve learned everything you need to know about God and how God is working in your life.
I’m asking you to continue on in your faith journey. Take the shiny new Bible that you will receive from Dr. Evertsberg in just a few minutes home with you and read it. If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask questions; ask your parents, ask your Sunday School teachers, ask me, ask Katie. We are all here to help you to live lives of faith and love. Most of all, come here and continue to be a part of this community of faith.
I’ve shown you this old Bible of mine before and I’ve told you that I’ve had this since I was seven. I hope that years from now, all of those shiny new Bibles that you’re going to be receiving here shortly will look like this one, well-worn after years of reading and re-reading.
Sometimes the language in this book is fancy and old fashioned, with images of green pastures and still waters. Sometimes it’s pretty simple and direct, with commandments that remind us to love God and love each other. But no matter how we feel on any given day, whether we are happy that our families are together for a birthday or a wedding, whether we are mourning the loss of a loved one or whether we are sleepily walking into our school classrooms, you can always find something in this book to help you and remind you that God is with us, loving us in all that we do. This is the book that tells us that God will never give up on us, that nothing can keep us from God’s love.
So enough talking! Pastor Katie, Dr. Evertsberg… let’s hand out some Bibles!