Friday, June 23, 2017

End. Of. Footnotes.

1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13
The confirmation class, Renee my co-teacher, and I have an inside joke that we will share with you today.  When we first began our journey together last September we would read the 23rd Psalm at the beginning of class in hopes of memorizing it.  So what I had done was to copy and paste a particular version from ‘Bible Gateway’ an online source to make a handout, but what I had inadvertently copied as well was something at after the last line, ‘and I shall dwell in the house forever’ which said, “End of Footnotes”.  Well I didn’t realize that until we read it together the first time and one, outspoken confirmand continued with, ‘and I shall dwell in the house forever. End of Footnotes’.
As you can imagine, that took on a life of it’s own.  Whenever we prayed the Psalm it always, ALWAYS concluded with “End of Footnotes” rather than Amen.  It’s their signature ending to this most beloved Psalm. Well as you know a footnote is placed at the bottom of a page of a book and it comments or cites a reference for part of the text or story.  Ultimately I think that a footnote is apropos for today; for the confirmation of these seven talented, committed and spirited youth of our church. 

You see each of our lives is a story. And there are unique and memorable events in our life stories that mark the passages of time.  One might call these events footnotes because they call out, above all the rest for the reader to understand, that this moment is special.  This moment in time was transformational to the story of this person’s life.

And so it is with confirmation.  Confirmands, confirmation is a footnote in your personal journey of faith.  It is a time called out that you will remember for the rest of your life.  Whether you remember the Killam’s point retreat, or ‘Be, Be, Be, Be Be’, or the drudgery of six plus 300 word essays that you wrote, or visiting Life Haven, or being in the Prayer Walk, or having an ‘aha’ moment about God.  Confirmation marks a very holy time in your life and in the development of your spiritual life.  You embraced it, you engaged in it to make it meaningful for yourselves and that’s exactly how it should be.  Renee and I both thank you for that.  But what I can unequivocally tell you is that this is NOT the ‘End of Footnotes’ for you. 

You have got a lot ahead of you.  There are going to be many footnotes in your journey of faith, many significant ones that might be filled with joy and also with sorrow.  But they will no doubt be a time of transformation and growth and I hope experienced within a community of faith.
If you remember one of the activities that we did at the retreat was to talk about the body of Christ and our place in it.  We put together a jigsaw puzzle of a body with Christ as it’s head and we identified the gifts that we each possess as a part of the body of Christ.  That little exercise speaks to the message that the Bible has for us today which is the Feast of Pentecost.

The Apostle Paul writes his letter to the people at Corinth, a bustling urban community that was ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse. Corinth was the heart of Roman Imperial culture in Greece and it is more than likely that this small fledgling church population mirrored the larger community.  So you can imagine that there were clashes because of this diversity.

So Paul writes as a mediator between the members.  Hear the words of the Apostle Paul in the 12th chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians.

Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

As only Paul can do, he illustrates his point in many ways.  In fact he just hammers that point in over and over again like a jackhammer on stone. The church body at Corinth was not working out so well, they were a fractured church community and Paul tries very hard to bolster their confidence and remind them what being the body of Christ is all about.

So he uses the metaphor of the body to illustrate how the body of Christ should work. Each foot, each hand, each eye, each ear is essential.  Not one part is superfluous.  One body, one spirit.  They all work in harmony with one another yet each maintains its special function within the body.  Every member is significant and every member has a gift that will uniquely benefit the church.  Every member has the responsibility to tell his or her story of God’s love in their life with many footnotes!
And what binds this conglomeration of people together is baptism in Christ.  It is our shared story of love and pain, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears that we hold in common.  And yet we are free to express our unique and diverse gifts for the good of the common weal.  I don’t think it gets any better than that.  Unity and diversity are not incompatible; they are interdependent on one another[i].   

Baptism is where this journey for you began Confirmands and Confirmation is one of many footnotes that will punctuate it but will not end it.  This has been a remarkable year in your faith life. You have affirmed today, the promises made long ago by your parents on your behalf. You have made a good decision - a life altering decision – one worthy of a footnote.  Because you are God's own, God has chosen you and you have chosen God.  Continue to speak and express God's love, continue to follow the ways of Christ in your own unique manner because you are the body of Christ.  Grow into your fullest knowing that God formed you in your mother's womb and that God has called you thus far and that God will abide with you and grow with you, today and always.  

And remember that we are here for you, loving you, supporting you and accepting you because you are beloved children of God.


[i] Rethinking Interim Ministry

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