Trinity 4 (2013)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
June 23, 2013
Central Passage
Luke 6:36-42
On the occasion of the First Communion & Confirmation of Mstr. Trevor Trapp

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Most people would say that Trevor has been preparing these past two years to be confirmed in the Church, just as most of you spent two or so years in preparation for your Confirmation. Then at the end of your time of preparation you, like Trevor to one degree or another, were examined as to what you know, what you memorized out of the Small Catechism. And barring any serious breech of effort or reverence toward the teachings of the Church, you – like Trevor today – were confirmed in the Church.

Now I know that Trevor will be different because I am an eternal optimist about such things, but it is also true that many, many, many of those that are confirmed in the church find their way out of it. There’s no point in denying it or pretending to be offended that I would say such a thing because we all know it’s true. Which is partly why congregations are nervous on Confirmation Day. Will the confirmed remain true to their vows or will they abandon them? It is why all of us can, without much thought, remind the confirmands that Confirmation is not graduation. And we all laugh a little nervous laugh.

Every generation, from those that recited the Catechism in German and had to memorize everything, to those that merely watch a few movies and talk about life events – every generation has been burned. And we will be burned again … though not by Trevor.

But in truth, none of our confirmands, not Trevor and not you, none of our confirmands have studied for two years just to get confirmed. If that’s the goal, if that’s the end-game, then we should not be surprised that Confirmation has become graduation. They’ve fulfilled the requirements, taken the right classes, said the right things, and jumped through the right hoops. Just like secular school. Get the grades, get the diploma. But Confirmation isn’t really the goal. After all, Confirmation as we know and love it was not instituted by our Lord and Master, but by the churchly men that wanted to make sure the children were getting the proper instruction in the word of God. The history of Confirmation is long and sordid, so I won’t get into it here, but suffice it to say that what we know as Confirmation is not what our Lutheran Fathers knew as Confirmation.

Neither is the Lord’s Supper the goal of these two years of instruction. If it were, then our Lord or at least His apostles should have said something to that effect. But the truth is, no matter how hard you look and no matter in what translation or compilation of the Bible, you won’t find such a thing as Confirmation or any such process for those who desire to receive what their Lord desires to give. What you will find is that in His mercy the Lord gives to those who ask and does not withhold from the one that petitions. And unless you turn and become like little children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

So what’s the goal, then? If the goal isn’t Confirmation and it’s not being received at the Lord’s Table, what’s the goal? The goal is to become like the Master. For no student is above the Master and no disciple is above the Teacher.

And the Master is merciful.

The goal of Christian catechesis isn’t just to make sure you can answer theological questions or spout out knowledge of the Reformation or such things. It’s not even salvation since salvation depends not on us and what we know but upon the Holy Spirit and the faith He gives. The true goal of catechesis is that you would become like the Master. Above all, that is why Confirmation is not graduation. You’re catechesis, Trevor, and your catechesis, congregation, is not over. If it were then you are here for no purpose. No one after graduation returns to school to repeat the classes they’ve graduated from. So why are you here if Confirmation is the goal? You are here because Confirmation is not the goal. You are here because the Master is merciful.

He does not judge you. He judged Himself in the courts of Pontius Pilate so that He could find you innocent. He does not condemn you. He condemned Himself on the cross in order to find you guiltless. In this way He has forgiven you all your sins and has opened to you the way of eternal life. Not because of you, but because of Himself. For He is merciful.

But in our eye there is a log. And the log in your eye is yourself. Which is why you compare other people to yourself, judging them not merely on what they have or have not done, but on what you have or have not done and how they have failed to be like you. The poor have failed to plan like you. The divorced have failed to love like you. The deadbeat dads and estranged mothers have failed to be responsible like you. The government has failed to be as smart as you. The pastor has failed to be as Lutheran as you. The confirmands have failed to have worked as hard as you. And those who have fallen away have failed to be as faithful as you. And we become offended. We become offended that others are not as good or right as us. So we condemn and judge. Maybe not with laws or rules, but we condemn when we do not receive and we judge when we put up barriers between ourselves and others.

Our heavenly Father sent His only-begotten Son to tear down the barriers between Him and us. He received His Son and so receives humanity. He receives you because you are baptized into His Son with whom He is well pleased. He is merciful to you, lavishing upon you the gifts of the earth as well as the heavenly places because His Son is as much a son of earth as He is the Son of Heaven. He asks for nothing in return and you cannot repay Him. All you can do is thank Him. But even if you don’t thank Him, even when you complain about what He has given and what He has not given, even then He gives and gives and gives, pouring out on you blessings of this life and the life to come.

For His eye is filled with His Son. And for the sake of the Son the Father’s mercy is given to all the children of men. When your eye is filled with the Son, you, too, will be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful. And that is why you come: to fill your eye with Jesus, the Son of God. And when He fills your eye your whole body is full of light and the life you live is not your own but Christ’s.

Here your Teacher teaches you to give without expecting anything in return. For what can you return to the Lord for all His benefits to you? Here He teaches you to be merciful not only to the just but to the unjust also, for none of us are righteous. Here your Teacher teaches you to love your enemies for we were once enemies of God.

So come, beloved of the Father, receive what you cannot pay back and take that which costs you nothing. Fill your eye and be filled with Jesus, the Man of Mercy, that filled with the mercy of the Father you will called sons of the Most High. (Luke 6:35)

+ In Nomine Iesu +