June 9, 2019 Pentecost/Confirmation Romans 8:14-17
On September 7, 2018 Pope Francis said: “Dear parents, children are the most precious gift that you have ever received.”
Parents love their children unconditionally, they are willing to sacrifice in order for their children to have a better life. When their children suffer, parents suffer as much or perhaps even more. A child’s achievements bring much joy and pride to parents.
The relationship between parent and child truly exceptional. It is therefore no wonder that the Bible uses the image of the relationship between parent and child to describe the relationship between God and human beings.
Today during this worship hour, the focus is, as always, on God. And it is with gratitude towards God that we celebrate an important decision in the lives of 8 young people. God has worked with them, in them and through them over the years. God has used their parents, grandparents, siblings, family members, church-family members, school and Sunday school teachers and friends to shape and form them. They were brought to church, they heard God’s Word and they experienced God’s love for them in a variety of ways. God’s Spirit planted faith in their hearts, they in turn accepted God’s love of them and they reciprocated God’s love by loving God and their neighbors. As they grew physically, they also grew in faith, hope and love.
The Spirit of God worked in them, moved them to confess that Jesus is their Lord and led them to children of God! And they came to realize that they can call God Abba, Father. This is the work of God’s Spirit!
Then the Apostle Paul says something really profound: “The Spirit of God is not a spirit of slavery or fear.”
The Spirit of God makes us children of God. The difference between slaves and children was immense during the time when Paul wrote this. Slaves were afraid of their masters for the masters could punish them. Slaves had to be careful to do what they were told to do and if they do something wrong they would suffer terrible consequences.
Children on the other hand have free access to their parents, they are loved and embraced. They don’t fear their parents but trust them.
In a spiritual sense the difference between serving God as a slave and as a child is immense too. People serving God as slaves are doing so as a duty and not as a privilege. They serve God with heavy harts and not with lighthearted joy. They serve God with fear and uncertainty, they come to church with a moaning and sighing and not with joy, excitement and love. Even as they serve God they do so with fear and apprehension, as a slave and not as a child. A child of God serves God with freedom, delight and enthusiasm.
The 8 young people who were confirmed today are joining us for they too, like us are children of God! Thanks be to God. Amen