That title comes from one of my favorite spiritual writers, Frederick Buechner. He was describing the unique way he experiences God's presence as sudden, unexpected upthrusts of love, hope or comfort. I was reminded of that quote looking at my backyard this week.
All around our house, over the past month, flowers and plants have been shooting out of the ground. Most of them I planted or transplanted, but honestly forgot where they were and just how many there are! Once established, they keep returning each year, just waiting for the right conditions to send them out of the ground.
Now what has me looking at my yard and thinking of a Buechner quote?
This is one of the most important Sundays of the year to me. The students who have spent the past nine months (the same amount of time they spent in their mother's wombs!) learning who God is, the purpose of the church, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ will now take that important step of claiming this faith for themselves and becoming members of the church.
This is what we pray for when we baptize infants. They are welcomed into God's family, but the goal is that they one day choose for themselves to be a part of God's family. Will they stay there all the time? Probably not.
That was a door slammer wasn't it? Sorry to sound pessimistic, but studies show there is a significant drop off rate of active church involvement after confirmation. Sometimes moving away from the faith is part of the process of owning that faith. I don't see confirmation as a guarantee as much as a deposit. Through the experiences in our children's ministry and now confirmation, faith gets planted like a seed. Something important is inside of these young people. We may not always see it (like my backyard in winter), but then, just like spring, faith appears. An upthrust of underlying Providence.
God takes the work we do in order to do the work only God can do. That being the case, is there anything more important we can do as parents and grandparents than plant as many seeds of faith as possible in our children? Is there anything more important we can do as a church than invest in the lives of our kids?
This Sunday in worship you will hear about ways you can be a seed planter through children's camps and events this summer. Such investment is never wasted. When faith, through the influence of love, gets seeded in a person's life, God will do something with that "planting;" something we can't predict, something that will impact our world. As Paul wrote, "Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord knowing your labor is not in vain." I hope you will join me in praying for each student and for the seeds of faith lodged within them and how God might show forth through them both now and for the rest of their lives