This evening I attended a confirmation cluster class with the confirmation from my contextual education congregation, St. John’s Lutheran of Wilmette. This cluster gathers several nearby congregations together twice a month to offer students an opportunity to learn with other confirmands and participate in service projects with one another. While I used to work with children and teens in libraries in my life before ministry, I know I have much to learn on helping young people prepare for the affirmation of their baptism.
Today’s topic centered on peace and justice. Echoing our service project two weeks prior at Feed My Starving Children, tonight’s conversation focused on understanding how we complete good works as a result of our love for God, not as a condition to guarantee some sort of salvation. We also explored that we are called to behave with a spirit of justice equally to all people, and the struggles that can come with living into that equality.
I think the most enlightening moment for me was recognizing that acting from a spirit of peace and justice is something we promise at our baptism and when we affirm our faith. I didn’t recall this from my own confirmation, and when hearing those words wondered if this was an add-on to the newer hymnal, the Evangelical Lutheran Worship book. Upon returning home, I opened my old LBW, the Lutheran Book of Worship that contains the words of my baptism and affirmation. There it was, the exact same promise – “to strive for justice and peace for all the earth.”
It was striking to see that not only do we commit to God and one another to live with a spirit of peace and justice, we commit to striving for peace and justice for all the earth. Not just our neighbors. Not just the St. John’s community or the confirmation cluster or even the synods in Illinois. For all the earth.
We are fortunate that we have a true example of such a commitment through the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus showed us through his actions and teachings that anyone can take steps for peace and justice. Jesus hand-picked the people who in their high-school year book would have been voted “Least Likely to Care for Others” and empowered them to be disciples. Out of the twelve in our scripture, each disciple had some issue or fear to overcome when being in service to others. But held in the love of Christ and empowered by that love, they were sent out to teach others how to strive for justice and peace for all the earth.
Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we too are empowered to take such steps to strive for justice and peace. We are further empowered by one another when we enter into the community of believers at our baptism. This empowerment is one of the things we affirm at our confirmation, to support one another when we struggle to live in a spirit of equality, and such a promise is made back by the community.
That support of the community is the first step in striving for justice and peace for all the earth.