Rev. Sarah Buteux
June 4, 2017
Acts 2:1- 21
“Coming into one’s own.” Have you ever heard that expression before? It’s kind of what we’re doing today, right? Today is the day you affirm the faith you have been raised in as your own. But it’s kind of a strange phrase and a strange concept, when you think about it.
Strange: this idea that you can actually ever reach a stage in life where you know yourself to have become your full self, your best self; this idea that you can come to a place where you know you have reached your full potential and are solid and secure in who you are, what you do, all you know.
Can any of you out there remember the moment when you finally came into your own? Have any of you managed to stay there, or did you find yourself coming right back out again on the other side? Yeah, me too.
It’s a neat idea – coming into one’s own – but in my experience that sense of having it all together and finally feeling like you actually know what you are doing, tends to be rather fleeting.
You might make a commitment you feel absolutely solid about – like marrying your partner, for instance- you might ace a test, score the winning goal, pull off an amazing event, but that high of knowing for sure and for certain that you got this, you are good at this, you have mastered this…. (sigh)…I don’t find that feeling ever lasts for very long.
Life just doesn’t seem to work that way and the truth is….neither does faith.
So if you’re sitting here this morning about to get confirmed and yet still silently wondering how you got yourself into this, if you’re really ready for this, if you even truly believe in all of this, it’s ok. We get it. You’re in the right place. And you’re in very good company, not just in this church, but with believers throughout the ages.
Just take a closer look back at our Bible story for today. It’s easy to assume -what with all the special effects and miraculous goings on – that everyone back then would have been absolutely certain about what they believed and ready for whatever came next.
After all, Pentecost is the story of the birth of the church. Pentecost marks the moment when the church came into its own, when the good news of God’s love and hope for the world went viral. With the help of a mighty wind, tongues of fire, and a handful of peasants from Galilee who could suddenly speak every language East of the Mississippi, belief in Jesus spread like wildfire.
Thousands of people signed on so quickly that there’s no way you could have been present that day and still denied that the Spirit was real, powerful, and up to something.
But what you might not know, is that those disciples who were out in the square teaching everyone and spreading the good news, those disciples who would go on to write letters, lead the first Christian communities, travel as missionaries around the ancient world and put their very lives on the line to spread this new faith, weren’t that much older than you.
Jesus was only 33 when he died, and his disciples would have been much younger. In fact, I did a little research and it turns out that most of them were probably between the ages of 15 and 18.
Think about that for a moment. Just think about it. They were all most likely in their late teens with the exception of Peter who was probably in his early 20’s.
So if you’re feeling a little nervous about all this, like you are probably too young for all this, not ready for all this, maybe not knowledgable enough or faithful enough or good enough for all this, imagine how they felt. They weren’t joining the church that day, they were starting it! They were going to be in charge of the whole thing.
And I bet they didn’t feel ready either. I’m sure they had their doubts about whether they were old enough or good enough or faithful enough to pull this off.
But what I hope you can see is that even in the midst of all their doubt, even in the midst of all their ignorance and inexperience … that their lack of belief in themselves was nothing -NOTHING! – compared to the fact that God believed in them. Just as God believes in me and God believes in you.
I think that is one of the central truths at the heart of our story today: the amazing faith God has placed in us. The fact that God entrusted us with the church in the world.
I mean, when you think about it, Jesus could have stuck around, right? He could have taken charge. And not for nothing, he probably would have done a heck of job as the head of the church here on earth. But that wasn’t God’s plan, not for Jesus and not for us.
Because if Jesus had stayed, people would have just looked to Jesus. God’s presence and work in the world would have been limited by what one physical body could do. You see, Jesus could only teach, heal, love, touch, feed and inspire so many people at at a time.
So Jesus ascended. He got out of the way so we could get in the game. In fact Jesus himself said that we would “do even greater things” than he had once he returned to the Father. He even said to the disciples “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the (HolySpirit), will not come to you…”
And that Spirit he promised, that Spirit is what came down at Pentecost, not just on some people, but on all people. Not on a people speaking any one language but on people speaking many languages. Not on people of any one faith or race or class or generation, not just on the worthy or the good or the faithful or the ones old enough to know how to do things right, but on everyone gathered in the square that day.
God’s spirit did not fall on a building – as it had in the past – but on ordinary human beings like you and me, and that is where God’s spirit abides even now.
Dear ones, you are the temple, as Paul says in his letters to the Corinthians and the Ephesians. You are the body: the hands and feet of Christ, spanning the ages and encircling the globe.
Jesus had to leave, whether his disciples were ready for him to go or not, so that we could come into our own. Jesus had to depart so the church could spread – not through the loving words and actions of one man – but through the loving words and actions of all people who choose to follow in his way.
So today – whether you’re 12, 22, or 92 – is really less about whether you are ready than whether you are willing… willing to follow in the way of Jesus.
Today isn’t about certainty, because faith is not about certainty. It’s about hope. It’s about trust. It’s about taking a chance and having the courage to believe that another world is possible, a better world, a more caring, just and generous world.
It’s about daring to believe that if you stand up next to me and I stand up next to you and we reach out together to live and love like Jesus, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, that together we can heal the brokenness and celebrate the beauty of this world that God loves so much.
That’s what we’re inviting you into today. That’s the faith you are affirming. Not just your faith, your hope, your love and trust in God, but God’s faith, God’s hope, God’s love and trust …God’s belief that – ready or not – you can do this. You’ve got this…you’ve got this because God’s got you.
So Sam, Helen, Krista, Ruth, Eric, if you are willing, it is my honor to invite you forward to affirm your baptism by being confirmed into the faith and membership of this church.