From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

What A Wonderful Palm Sunday!

Yesterday was one of those beautiful Sundays in which the weather reflected the spirit. The baptism of Heather S. at our 10:15 service was one of the very few times I’ve baptized an adult, and it was peculiarly beautiful. I’d met Heather just a few months ago. She’d been affected by the death of a friend, and then went to Happening and was – well what can I say? – regenerated, made alive, awakened. Her excitement and passion for the Lord are evident. While I know the journey of faith is a long and narrow one which can’t be defined by any one moment, it’s a sweet and powerful thing for this old crusty pastor to see new life and faith right before my eyes! The baptism itself was also a little different. I felt it important to show that this was not really an individualistic thing but a corporate, communal thing. So I asked some of Heather’s friends and faith companions to come surround her at the font and lay hands on her while I baptized with water. For me at least, it changed the sense of what was going on. It wasn’t just me and Jesus. It was us and Christ among us. Powerful stuff!

Then in the afternoon came Confirmation. Our class was 7 this year, and I will miss these guys! Just finishing 8th grade, these people (I can’t call them “kids” anymore) are morphing into adults – still part kid, part adult, in process. Kinda like the sanctification of any Christian. Our tradition has been to confirm on Palm Sunday, a tradition I frankly don’t quite understand. A few years ago, as a kind of experiment, we moved Confirmation from Sunday morning to Sunday afternoon. While Confirmation should be in the context of corporate worship, I saw no reason the church could not worship corporately in the afternoon as well as in the morning. Plus moving it to the afternoon allowed us to make Confirmation of faith the focus of the entire service. (I think the results are mixed, and we may one day go back to Sunday morning Confirmation but on a day OTHER than Palm Sunday). In any case the 7 Confirmands had memorized their required material and gave some evidence of their own heartfelt faith. Again I found it moving to see the launch, or at least this significant milestone, of their faith. So much lies ahead, and I wonder sometime how solid their faith really is. Just like I wonder that about my own faith. But I am so grateful for these special Sundays, when the light shines a bit brighter, and reminds me that no darkness can overcome it.

Here’s our 2011 Confirmation Class – thanks to Jodie Main for the pic from Facebook, and for making it possible to Skype the service to Brad so he could see his girl confirmed!

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