From Pastor Don…
Earlier this summer I was at Ping Pong’s Pint Size Puppet Museum in Portland to see a friend direct a marionette show he’d written. During the performance one of the puppeteers lost his grip on the controller of the marionette he was operating, and it fell onto the tiny stage. In less than two seconds it seemed, the stage’s little curtain quickly came down and went right back up. The marionette was up and dancing around again as if nothing had happened. I was impressed. After the show I asked the puppeteer how he had recovered the control so quickly. I thought maybe there was some kind of long stick or wire puppeteers use, but he said he reached down and picked up the controller by hand. In the world of puppetry this recovery technique is known as “The hand of God”.
Isn’t real life a little like a marionette show where “The hand of God” comes down and intervenes in the lives of the characters on stage? It’s not a perfect illustration I grant you. For instance, we’re not marionettes. We’re not dancing around on a stage while God controls us from the heavens above; we have the freedom to choose most things in life. The problem is we don’t always make the best choices, and bad things happen as a result. Bad things happen even without making any choices sometimes—they just happen! But as that little marionette show reminded me, God’s hand is at work in the world. Jesus Christ came down from heaven to live among us as a true human being and true God. Because of his atonement for our sin on the cross, we are redeemed, saved, and sanctified. In a way, it’s like “The hand of God” came down into our lives and lifted us back up. One could make all kinds of connections with this theme to baptism: being buried and raised again with Jesus, and so forth. But one thing is for sure, God is active and working in this world.
We see him working through the means of grace, that is, through the Gospel, Holy Baptism, and The Lord’s Supper. The Lutheran Confessions are quick to point out the rite of confirmation is not a means of grace, but I think we can all agree the work of the Holy Spirit is evident in the lives of our young confirmands. September 9th is Confirmation Sunday, where we will see twelve young people affirm their faith in Jesus Christ. They have made it through a yearlong intensive study of Luther’s Small Catechism, taken dozens of quizzes, watched two three-hour long movies, memorized the Apostle’s Creed, examined by me, interviewed by the elders, and written an essay. I wish they could read their essays to you on Confirmation Sunday—they are all outstanding. But with twelve candidates, there just isn’t time. So they’ll be reading to you a brief statement of their faith at the 8:30 service after I introduce them to you. Then, at the 10:45 service, we will have the full rite of confirmation, with a reception afterwards. I encourage you to congratulate them, and continue to pray for them. They are the future of the Church, and their spiritual growth does not end with confirmation—it’s only the end of the beginning. They need our love, care, and nurturing as they move full steam ahead into early adulthood.
So this September, take comfort and joy knowing the future is in capable hands. Not only is it in the hands of our triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but it is also in the hands of some very bright and capable young Christians, your children at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sherwood, Oregon. To that we give thanks and glory to God. Amen!