Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord, God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
This scripture is from the first chapter of Jeremiah, and it is the story of Jeremiah’s call from God.
When God first called Jeremiah into the ministry, Jeremiah said “NO.” No way.
Jeremiah had doubts about himself; he said that he didn’t know how to speak; he was too young; that he was inadequate; that he did not have the answers, and most of all why God was calling him in the first place.
What this passage says to you today is that it is okay for you to have doubts just like Jeremiah. But in the midst of your doubts, I want you to hear God’s response:
“Do not be afraid of your doubts, they are natural, and remember I am with you and I will help you,”
The call of Jeremiah reminds me of the passage in the gospel of Mark (Mark 9: 14-24) where Jesus heals a boy possessed by an impure spirit.
Jesus came upon the disciples, who were surrounded by a large crowd, and they all were arguing. Jesus asked. “What are you arguing with them about?” A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by an impure spirit that has robbed him of speech. My son also has seizures. I asked your disciples to drive out the evil spirit, but they could not.” Jesus replied, “You unbelieving generation, Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately caused the boy to have a seizure. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “But IF you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
These words are very sober words: “I believe, dear Lord, help my
unbelief.” It is good for us from the very beginning to get used to not bragging about our faith. Faith is not like that. Precisely because each day depends on our ability to really “keep the faith.”
What we say really doesn’t matter, what matters is how we act; it is not what we say we believe, it is how we act that really matters. So I urge you to practice “keeping the faith” each and every day.
This confirmation day is an important day for you and for all of us. It is not an insignificant thing that you are here, you have studied, you have written your statement of faith, you have been involved in service projects, met with your mentors, and today you are joining the church, KUC. I hope that for the rest of your life you will remember this day with great joy.
When you speak about your beliefs, do not rely on yourselves, or on your good intentions, or on the strength of your faith, but rely on God, on Jesus Christ, and on the Holy Spirit. And pray in your hearts:
“I believe, dear Lord, help my unbelief.”
Who among us would not and should not pray that same prayer with you?
Confirmation is not only a joyful day, but it is also a serious day. You know that it is easy to confess one’s faith here in church, in the fellowship of the congregation, before your parents, your mentors, your teachers, and your classmates. And we are thankful that God grants us this time of worship and celebration, but all of this will only become serious and real after this day of confirmation, when your daily life returns, your daily life with all of its decisions. Then it will become evident whether even this day was serious. You do not have your faith once and for all. The faith that you confess today with all your heart needs to be put into practice tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and indeed, every day.
Faith is the daily bread that God gives us.
Every morning it is a new struggle to fight through all of our doubts, our unbelief, our confusion, our anxiety and uncertainty. Every morning in your life the same prayer will be necessary.
“I believe, dear Lord, help my unbelief.”
As 14 and 15 year olds you do not have to have all of the answers right now, nor should you. You do not need to know what you want to do with your life or how you are going to do it.
It is not necessary for you to have come to any insightful conclusions about your faith and your beliefs – that wasn’t the goal of confirmation.
When you say, “I believe” you are not making a definitive statement – you are simply expressing where you are in this moment. And you are promising to continue on your faith journey, asking questions and being open to finding answers in unexpected places.
I hope that your faith journey keeps you right here actively involved in the life of this church, KUC, because I believe that each one of you has the inclination and the ability to do great things here, to make an important contribution.
Hear once again the words from our Lord God in the Call of Jeremiah
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you and I will help you.”
Remember to always be true to who you are. Do not be afraid to speak up when you feel like your voice needs to be heard, for your voice does need to be heard. Never stop asking questions. Embrace your gifts. Sense the strength that you hold within yourself – use that strength. Love your neighbor and love yourself.
Jesus said, ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.’ (Matthew 5: 14-16)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’
I am proud of each and every one of you. Now go out into the world and let your light shine!
You are a magnificent creation of the divine!