It’s really great to be able to celebrate, not only the Eucharist, but the sacrament of Confirmation here on Trinity Sunday – the Feast of the Holy Trinity, your “Feast of Title.”
It’s great, because Matthew, and we, will be able to renew our Baptismal Covenant today, and everyone in this room who has been baptized was baptized in the Name of the Trinity, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit just as The Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s Gospel today told us to be!
Confirmation, of course, is the occasion on which we confirm the vows and promises that we made, or that were made on our behalf, when we were baptized. Today, Matthew will take those vows upon himself, and you and I are invited to renew ours right along with him.
Often these days, when we speak of the Baptismal Covenant, we emphasize the five promises we make at the end of the Covenant – where we promise to continue in the apostles’ teaching…resist evil…proclaim Good News…love our neighbors as ourselves…and strive for justice and peace.
And those are extremely important promises indeed. In fact, I would say that the inclusion of those Baptismal vows in the current edition of our Book of Common Prayer has done more than almost anything else to change the face of The Episcopal Church from being a church content with maintenance to a church sent forth on mission!
But there are some important things which come before those five promises. First of all, we will ask Matthew if he “reaffirms his renunciation of evil.” That simply means to confirm the direction his life was set upon at the moment of his Baptism – a life committed to the good, and opposed to the evil, in this world.
And, perhaps even more importantly, Matthew will renew his personal commitment to Jesus Christ and promise to follow and obey him as Lord. Then, you and I will promise to do all in our power to support him in that effort. Pretty important stuff!
But we don’t move to those five concluding, important promises yet! First, we are asked to confirm our belief in the holy and undivided Trinity by a kind-of question and answer version of the Apostles’ Creed. This is not so much a theological “litmus test” as it is a statement of our commitment to trust in God…the God Christians have experienced in three ways – as the One who created us…the One who redeems us…and the One who sanctifies us (or makes us holy).
Christian theologians will want to say a whole lot more about the Trinity than that. Volumes have been written about the doctrine of the Trinity, describing the inner nature of God. The Church was torn in two over disagreements about whether the Holy Spirit came forth from the Father and the Son, or just from the Father! I think I’ll leave it to academic theologians to sort all that out.
For me, it’s enough to know that our God is one God, just as I am one human being. But, just as I can be experienced as a father…and a son…and even a bishop at the same time, so the One God can be experienced – and has been experienced – as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.
And, as Forrest Gump once said, “That’s all I’m going to say about that!”
Instead, we are going to proceed with Confirmation and with the renewal of those all-important promises which make us who we are as Christians. People who renounce evil…People who follow Jesus…People who support one another… And, yes, people who trust the Church’s teaching about the Triune God…
We demonstrate that by being here in church every Sunday to hear the apostles teach through Scripture, to have fellowship with one another, to break Bread and to pray together.
We do it by resisting evil and sin in our lives, but by knowing that when we do fall short, all we have to do is to turn back to God again.
We show that we’re Christians by sharing our Faith with others – by our words and by the way we live our lives….by loving our neighbors as ourselves…and by respecting the dignity of every…single…human being, we ever meet (because they too were made in the image of God)!
Simple…huh? No, not simple. Nothing worth doing ever is. But it is what we signed onto… on that day of our Baptism…on that day of our Confirmation.
So, in the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the ages!” (Matthew 28:19-20)