Confirmed: A Bible Study for Asbury's Worship
by Rev. Lee Johnson
May 1, 2022
The New Testament Book of Acts provides an account of the early Christian Church in the days that followed Easter. As believers sorted through the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God sent the Holy Spirit, just as God had sent Jesus, to accompany the believers on their journey. With that, the Christian Church was born. It wasn’t easy work, though. They argued, a lot, about what they were to believe. Was there to be a “right” way of believing? And, just who was eligible? Would Gentiles be welcomed into the church? As you read through the pages of Acts, in many ways you discover the life of the early church reflects in a similar manner upon the life of the church today. For we continue to argue about “right” belief. And certainly, we argue about who gets in. Still, the compiler of Acts records, time after time, disagreement after disagreement, the church grew in numbers. In fact, on the evening of the Day of Pentecost, the event in which God sent the Spirit to journey with the believers, “about three thousand families” were added to the church rolls. The church did not arrive neatly laid out with an understandable set of instructions. Instead, it was born in a confusing sound of wind and flame. From the beginning, there was confusion and disagreement. Yet, the church grew. People were baptized, and “day by day, as they spent much time together,” the Lord “added to their numbers.” What hope do you find in this story of the early church? How might the hope of the Acts story speak to us today?
It’s no surprise then, in the church today, one of the events marking the days following Easter is the Christian Rite of Confirmation. The name means what it says, believers are “confirmed” into the ways of the church. Numbers are added. Of course, you might ask, “which ways” are the “right ways” to be confirmed into? Remember, wherever two or more are gathered in the church, there will be a discussion about the “right way.” Fittingly then, and in keeping in line with church tradition, at Asbury this Sunday, nine youth will be “confirmed” into the church. The group, along with their adult sponsors, have spent time together during the past months preparing. They have studied scripture, familiarizing themselves with the story they believe. They have learned about other faith traditions, and the uniqueness of the tradition called United Methodist. They’ve worked together in mission. They’ve eaten together. Or like the Acts story says, “they spent much time together.” Now, they are ready to “confirm” their beliefs and “join” up. Faith is giving birth. In Acts, the presence of God is witnessed in its midst. How do you suppose God is active in an event like “Confirmation Sunday?”GO:
When it comes to confirmation in The United Methodist Church, everyone is involved, all the way from those being confirmed to those sitting in the far reaches of the pews. While it is the “confirmands” who “take” the vows, those who witness the moment also have a part. A prayer from the Litany of Confirmation reflects such involvement. Says the prayer: “We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God, and be found faithful in their service to others.” In this prayer, words like “love” and “forgiveness,” “trust” and “service” form the ways of “right” belief. While this is not a strictly worded “right” belief, it is a challenging one to follow. This is the kind of Christian community into which people are welcomed. It’s no wonder then, those in the early church spent hours together trying to understand it together. As we seek to follow Christ today, these words call us into community. Ponder your part in building a Christian community.
Acts 2: 43-47
Asbury's Weekend Worship: https://www.visitasbury.org/worship/
Beginning Sunday at 11 a.m. for Live Stream or 5 p.m. for recording.
"Lord, through my thoughts and actions, confirm my beliefs today."