Gospel and Sermon: John 1.1-5
1 1-2 The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing! — came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
From the very moment you came into the church this morning, from the very first hymn you sang, from the very first prayer, from the very first reading, - we focused on the choice between darkness and light, death and life, curses and blessings.
This morning, this service and this confirmation will focus on the choices we make in live and what we choose to live by. We focus on the Life-light as we just heard from the beautiful poetic Gospel according to John. “In the beginning was the word,” as the old translation says it. “And the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him…The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
The light, the word and God.
The darkness, the silence and Evil.
These opposite positions and powers were from the beginning – and we still are living in a world and in a life where these positions and powers pull us, and we need to make our choices.
In Christianity we believe that the light cannot be overcome by the darkness. We believe that God is in that light and we hope to live in that light.
Today we do confess our faith in the light together with these beautiful young people seated so graciously in the red chairs of honor, love and hope. Today we do confess with you and as a church that we do believe that light cannot be overcome by darkness.
In the midst of all the darkness of the world, all the terror that even hits peaceful churches, mosques, and temples, in the midst of all the suffering and hunger the world needs to address, in the midst of changing times, changing climate, changing traditions, changing cultures, - we do stand firm today as we confess our firm belief and hope in light and love.
As we heard from John’s beautiful Gospel, light has been at the center of our world, our life and our faith from the very beginning.
The light that brings life. The light that brings love. The lights that brings words. The light that builds relations.
Amidst all the suffering and pain of our world, we need to believe that and cling to that – and with that faith fight against everything that tries to diminish light, love and hope.
If you have two rooms next to each other. One with no windows and no candles or electrical light, and one with plenty of windows and soft candles burning – what happens when you open the door between these rooms? Light pours into the darkness, light brightens up the darkness – darkness does not overcome the light.
So, as Christians and as Humans we need to open doors to the dark rooms and let light pour in. As we will sing
“Shine Jesus Shine, fill this land with the Fathers Glory/ blaze, spirit, blaze, set our hearts o fire. / flow, river, flow, flood the nations with love and mercy/ send forth your word, lord and let there be light.”
Let there be light.
This should be our motto – not just for this morning but for every morning and every living hour of our lives. Let there be light.
Today these 22 beautiful soon to be confirmands of the Danish Lutheran Church will walk over new thresholds, through new doors and into new spaces to embrace their future, their adolescence, their youth and their adulthood.
For most of our lives when we grow up, our parents have been opening and closing doors for us: choosing which door to open and which door to keep closed or even locked.
Today’s confirmation marks that you – the marvelous 22 – will embark on a journey where you will have to open and close doors and make your own choices. Some choices are hard, and some doors might be hard to open, - and some choices seem easier and some doors will jump wide open. Some choices will take time and effort; some doors will need a key.
The wise and consistent upbringing and advice of your parents will be a foundation together with education, curiosity, independency and faith upon which you will make your choices. On which all of us are making our choices.
When Jesus walked the dusty roads and climbed the mountains to teach, - he tried to instill in his followers a persistency and honesty in life. He said:” Ask and it will be giving not you, search and you will find and knock, and the door will be opened for you.”
Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.
There is a persistency about these words. A “never stop mentality” that seems to drive the entire mission and vision of Jesus Christ.
Through his entire life and ministry, Jesus kept asking: he asked the Pharisees and old traditionalists about their practices and questioned how life seemed to be captured in old rules and dusty traditions; he kept seeking: the lost, the confused, the outcast, the children, the women, the sick and the possessed and he sought people out and looked at them, saw them, accepted them and blessed them and found them. And they found life, forgiveness, grace and God. Jesus kept on knocking on doors that had been closed or locked: he tore down walls and doors of rigid traditions, judgmental rituals and unjust prejudice. Jesus truly opened doors: he wanted openness, acceptance, tolerance and light. He wanted the light to pour into every dark room.
What Jesus tells us and reminds us to, - is that we too, middle-aged, old, young, need to be persistent and honest in our lives and our attitude.
We need to ask every question we can ask; we need to seek out everything possible to find, and we need to be knocking until our knuckles are bruised.
In a time and age of information overload, constant news, relentless updates, constant change and challenges, - we need to keep on: keep on asking about truth, facts, grace, love and justice; keep on seeking information, knowledge, truth, love and grace; and knocking on doors to invite the world in
There is something very fundamental forgiving about keeping on. It means that there will be missteps and mistakes, there will be unanswered questions, there will be silence; there will be U-turn, dead ends and blind alleys; there will be doors that will stay closed. But even more importantly: there will be second chances, new beginnings and unknown possibilities.
Our faith is to keep on. Keep asking, seeking and knocking. And keep on believing that the light is always stronger than the darkness.
This we celebrate today with our confirmands. This we celebrate today with a wide-open door to the world, to tomorrow, to our faith. Let there be light! Amen
Dear Confirmands – dear families, friends and congregations!
This is a beautiful day of joy, commitment, faith and hope. It is your day – so don’t let it slip away, take a deep breath, and enjoy it and embrace it!
Every time we have been having confirmation class since last November, we have been breaking records of the church. Look at the rows of confirmands! Look at the 22 confirmands. We have never had a class this size since the founding of the church in 1906!
We have also broken the record in the distances travelled to get to church. Ventura, Malibu, Huntington Beach, Valencia, Escondido, Pasadena, Playa del Rey… and then all the way from Freemont, San Francisco, San Jose. And today families all the way from Denmark came to celebrate. WELCOME!
We have meet, we have talked, you have asked questions and sought answers. We have meet here, but we have also meet in Cyberspace, on Skype or Facetime. We truly have proven that physical distance is not an obstacle in the age of today.
So, welcome all confirmands and all your families! What a great joy to break records with you today!
It has been a delight to get to know you and walk with you. You all walked into the Confirmation Classes and you have met me on Facetime with curiosity, questions, openness, and sincerity. You have accepted your differences and have shared your similarities. And you have had good conversations. We had a wonderful Confirmation Camp in January, getting to know each other, and the Danish Lutheran Church.
We have shared moments of meaning and honest conversations, we have laughed, we have enjoyed home baked cookies, we have worshipped together, and hopefully this has been the beginning of a lifelong conversation about faith, hope and love that I hope you will continue.
You have found time and opportunity to be here…in your crazy busy schedules as busy committed teenagers, - and a big thank you to your parents who diligently have tried to juggle all the soccer games, music, school assignments, volleyball, and the distances to travel by car or to meet on Facetime…. THANK YOU!
So, dear Confirmands – please look at your parents and be grateful that you have wonderful supporting parents, who truly wants to support you as they are able and provide the best opportunity for you. They were the ones cheering on your when you took your first step, and they will be cheering your every step!
And look at your families and friends, and your congregation, - we are all here to celebrate you, congratulate you, salute you and support you – because today is a very important day in your life.
You make a choice today, you say a load and confident YES to all you believe in: God and goodness, Jesus and joy, Holy Spirit, and Hope. You believe that faith hope and love are the greatest powers. It matters what you do believe in, it matters what you choose, - and today is your choice and more importantly is is God confirmation of his faith in you – that you are indeed his blessed beloved children!
And you are truly blessed beloved children – of this church too. You all have the right about of courage, commitment, humor, compassion and intelligence to find your way and to find the path to choose and the values to build on.
This marvelous confirmation class of 22 beautiful, caring, loving, intelligent young people, makes me proud and hopeful for the future to come.
Proud of this generation of young people who have big dreams not only for themselves but for the better of the world: this generation who wants to focus on kindness, help and care. The conversations we have had about life and living, truly has been uplifting.
You are the key to the future! You are the key to a better world.
I have a small gift for you – A beautiful little tote with a bracelet. Please take it out and put it on. It is a small bracelet with the symbol of the dove on the holy Spirit. Like the stain glass window.
The Sprit of God – the spirit of light, faith, hope and love. The very breath of life and of faith. Wear the bracelet but most importantly remember to breathe and let the spirit breathe new life, new hope and new love into you.
Remember to keep the conversation going, remember to keep asking questions. And remember it is okay to ask questions, to have doubt and not believe in every single word that is written in the bible. It is important to read anew, understand and be open. It is OK to believe some of it, but not all of it. First be persistent and honest. And always believe in the light.
Now you are done with your classes. Now your commitments are done, but your faith is not! I hope to still welcome you in church as this safe place and in my humble opinion the best place for reflection, relations, fellowship and faith.
I hope you come because you want to.
Today you will be confirmed. I will lay hands on you, as others have laid hands on me in the past, a sign of the passing on of the Holy Spirit and the blessing from God. And we will all pray for you and with you, asking God to come into your heart and give you courage in your faith, hope and love.
So be brave. Be humble. Be courageous. Be kind. Take risks. Travel the world. Embrace the unknown. Show compassion. Extend grace. Love without fear. And Shine light in a world that too often is filled with darkness.
Put your imprint on this church, on your community and on the world. Go and be light in the world.
Dear 22 Wonder Confirmands!
Congratulations. Tillykke! These beautiful young ones let them live long and strong!
Disse smukke unge mennesker, gid de laenge leve maa!