Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
This Sunday (May 20) is the Day of Pentecost. When we celebrate Pentecost, we remember how the Holy Spirit came into the lives of Jesus’ disciples and empowered them for ministry. The word “pentecost” means fiftieth day, which is why Pentecost is always seven weeks after Easter. In many Christian communities, Pentecost has equal importance to Christmas and Easter and is celebrated with the same level of energy, passion, and preparation. Even though we do not celebrate Pentecost with the intensity of Christmas, we should not discount its importance or lose sight of its meaning. That’s because Pentecost marks the birthday of the Church. It reminds us that the coming of the Holy Spirit transforms our lives and forms us into the body of Christ, and that Jesus’ ministry in the world continues – through us. Red is the color for Pentecost, so if you are so inclined, wear something red when you attend worship on Sunday morning.
In many congregations, including St. Matthew’s, Pentecost is the traditional day to celebrate confirmations. When we baptize infants and children, parents make a promise to raise their children in the church so that, when they are ready, the children can profess their faith for themselves. As a church, we also make a promise. We promise to surround every family with love and forgiveness and help them grow in their love for God, trust in God’s grace, and serve Christ in their lives. We invest our time, talent, and treasure in ministry with children and youth, so that on Confirmation Sunday, young women and men can stand before the congregation, profess their faith, and accept the life-changing power of God’s grace for themselves.
I am grateful that St. Matthew’s Church takes these promises seriously and I want to thank Cheri Brown, Jill Burrer, and Mike Fee for leading the Confirmation Class, the Faith Friends who have supported their confirmands throughout the year, and the parents who have made the Confirmation Class a priority in their busy lives. (Don’t forget that Confirmation starts in the fall and continues for the entire school year.)
Last week I met with all of the members of the 2018 Confirmation Class and participated in their retreat. I was impressed with their maturity and their desire not only to grow in their relationship with God, but also to use their gifts (and they are a very gifted group of people) to serve Christ in the Church and in the world. In our conversations, we talked about the meaning of the questions they will be asked on Sunday morning and the fact that St. Matthew’s is a better place because they are members of the church family.
I will tell you a bit more about my conversations with the Confirmation Class in Sunday’s sermon, which will be the third in the This Thing Called Church series. We’ll talk about what it means to be Powered by God as individual followers of Jesus and as the Church. If, as we have learned, the Church is God’s idea and is commissioned by God to bear fruit, then we can trust that God will provide power for the Church’s ministry through the Holy Spirit. That’s the Good News of Pentecost. The Scripture readings will be John 20:21-23 and Acts 2:1-4.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.