A Learning Community
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:12-13a ESV) Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! The good news of the resurrection of Jesus means that our sins are forgiven. This is the amazing truth that the Holy Spirit brings to each of us in a personal way. Today at International Lutheran Church, we celebrate the work of the Spirit that continues to guide our confirmands and all of us into all truth, namely faith in Jesus Christ.
Today we are blessed to witness two young people of ILC confirm their baptismal faith in Jesus. We will hear from them about their confirmation studies of the Holy Scriptures as they share their faith journey with us. In the Lutheran church, confirmation and the study of the Bible is shaped by the six chief parts of Luther’s Small Catechism – the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Confession, and the Lord’s Supper. Together these form a simple explanation of the teachings of the Bible so that the focus of our faith is on Jesus, who He is and what He has done for us.
Each confirmand has selected a memory verse that means something special to them. You might have many passages that are favorites, and even different ones that mean different things over time. For me the one that has been on my heart the last few weeks is Jesus’ words to his disciples during this same discourse – ”In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2) Even as our young people are confirming their Baptismal faith publicly today, we all are “confirming” our faith in Jesus each day. This is why confirmation is not graduation, but rather the public acknowledgement that we are a learning community of faith that grows and learns our whole life long.
Jesus’ words to His disciples on the night when He was betrayed are also for us. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them.” (John 16:12) We can’t always understand all of God’s revelation at one moment. Somethings we won’t fully understand until the day we need it. As we study many different parts of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it is hard to take it all in at once. There might even be questions that we haven’t even thought of yet. But here Jesus’ promise of the Spirit reminds us that we are not alone in our learning. We don’t and won’t just come up with it on our own, but the Holy Spirit guides and leads us. In particular, the Holy Spirit helps us to see how the resurrection of Jesus is for us. Even the Spirit does not come up with new or different things but points us ever back to Jesus. The Spirit brings us to faith in Jesus, and thereby the Father and the Spirit too. In Baptism, the Spirit gives us faith and the forgiveness of sins. In the Word, the Spirit points our attention to Jesus and faith in Him and guides us to know what Jesus has done for us. In the Supper, the Spirit feeds us and builds us up to live each day in the promise of the forgiveness of sins. Even more, through the Supper the Spirit brings us into communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and even the whole Church on earth and in heaven. This is what Jesus means when He says, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:14) We are a learning community of faith in Jesus. Each day is a day of confirmation as we see again and again just how much the Father has confirmed His love on us in sending His One and Only Son.
Even as we are a “learning” community that grows each day in the knowledge of just what it means that Jesus died and rose for me, for each of us, we are also a learning “community” that shares this good news with others. The Spirit guides us and leads us to share this “confirmed” love with young and old alike. Jesus rose for me, for each of us, but also for the whole world. He comes now even this morning in His Word and promise to give us life in His Name. Alleluia! Jesus is risen! He is risen, indeed!