First Lesson: Acts 2: 1-21
Responsive Reading: Psalm 104: 24-35b
Second Lesson: Romans 8: 22-27
Gospel Lesson: John 15: 26-27; 16: 4b-15
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Let me begin with a story told by author Margaret Wise Brown.
Once upon a time, there was a young bunny. The young bunny was at the age where he was ready to leave his home. So he continually taunted his mother with the threat that he will run so far away from home that she will never be able to find him. The young bunny had his share of big dreams. He first proclaims upon leaving his home: he will become a mountain. The mother just calmly states if that you a become mountain then I will become a mountain climber. The bunny then declares he will become a trout and swim around the lake where Mother surely cannot go. To which mother reminds the young bunny, no problem she will then become a fisherman. The bunny then declares he will become a flower that Mother will be unable to find, to which Mother declares that she will then become a gardener. The bunny lastly threatens to become a bird so that he can fly far away from the only home he’s ever known, at which point the mother bunny declares at that point “I will then become a tree to which you can eventually come home.” The message of The Runaway Bunny is this, no matter where you, no matter what you do, you are always assured of a place of love and acceptance that you can call your home.
Now I want you to keep the image of The Runaway Bunny in your head. Today is a day when two important events take place in the life of our congregation. Today is the Day of Pentecost, the Birthday of the Christian Church, the day when the Disciples were gathered unsure of what the future had in store.
On this day, the wind began to blow. The disciples began to speak in every sort of language imaginable. Pretty soon the commotion caused a huge crowd to gather; the people weren’t quite sure what was going on “They have had too much wine.” The crowd shouted.
Then Peter began to preach. “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Three thousand new believers were baptized on this day their life would never be the same again as forgiveness now had been proclaimed within their presence. Today we also celebrate, Lily, Mallory and Timmy your Baptism, and it’s meaning as you are confirmed. So what does your Confirmation mean?
Now each of you are athletes for the Silver Bay Mariners. Lily a volleyball and basketball player, Mallory a volleyball player, Timmy a football, basketball, and baseball player. Sports can teach us much about the message of The Runaway Bunny.
I was just a few years older than you are all now. I was a junior at Concordia College. Now when I was in college, I wasn’t much different than I am now. Every chance I got I would make the trip 250 miles down Interstate 94 to watch the Minnesota Vikings play. I did it in good weather, in a snowstorm. Most college kids travel abroad, the only place I ever wanted to go was Minneapolis.
One Day, the Vikings were on this day playing the New York Giants. If the Vikings won, they were going to the Super Bowl for the first time in my lifetime. I bought all sorts of food, invited all sorts of people to my apartment.
Five minutes into the game, the Vikings are losing 14-0. At halftime, the Vikings are losing 34-0. People’s reactions were quite interesting. Some would storm off and issue all sorts of church inappropriate language; some would turn on the Vikings reminding everyone “how they're nothing more than ‘chokers’,” some would stay silent.
After halftime, the apartment is now empty. I vowed thought that I was going to watch every second of that 41-0 football game. I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I was born a Vikings fan, and I’ll eventually die a Vikings fan. The following commitment will be true whether they win championship after championship or fail to win another game. Just like in the story of the Runaway Bunny, some promises are written to you so strongly that they ultimately cannot be forsaken.
Earlier this fall, I attended a similar football game. Silver Bay was playing Mountain Iron-Buhl. I should have known we were in trouble when before the game I saw a MIB parent who looked like a dead ringer for Hulk Hogan. Coming into the game the Mariners had several starters injured; the Rangers were bigger, faster, and stronger. Mountain Iron-Buhl won on this night 50-0. There would seem to be nothing good ever come of a game like this if you’re associated with Silver Bay.
After the game, I was walking back to the school alongside that evening’s referees. The refs commented to me how impressed they were with Silver Bay even in a 50-0 game. They pointed out how their attitude was good, the effort never wavered, and they never sought to result to the type of dirty player often found in blowouts. While no one can ever see any good when the score is 50-0, on this day I received a promise that things will ultimately get better down the line.
Today, Mallory, Lily, and Timmy you will be confirmed as Lutherans. Two of the most important questions that I asked in confirmation was “What is the Law?”, and “What is the Gospel?”
The Law is this. We all have times in life where we feel we’re not good enough. It might be when we lose football games 50-0, or when we struggle with a test at school, it might be when we see all the ways we seemingly don’t measure up with those around us. We face the law when we’re six when we’re told we can’t run in the streets, we face the law at sixteen when seemingly every kid in NE Minnesota is our competition, we face the law at twenty-six when our checkbooks seemingly are continually running low on funds, we face the law at thirty-six when we realize we’re no longer able to eat a bag of Oreos without consequences. We will all get older, grayer, and ultimately weaker. These are the harshest forms of the Law the types of judgment that confront us every single day.
So what is the Gospel?? Saturday after 50-0 loss to MIB, I go to my office fire off an email to the Coach Kaiser. As I described earlier, I view results as far from the most important thing in football. So I decided to write the Coach and tell him what a wonderful job that I think he’s doing with the football team because of what the Refs had told me even as the Mariners had lost their last two football games like 90-0. I caught even Coach Kaiser off guard with my response.
The Gospel is a reminder that Our Lord has a plan even when it doesn’t seem obvious. Our reminder of this is the Cross of Christ. The Gospel doesn’t promise us that we will never have our moments where difficult times and harsh judgments are continually slammed in our face. The Gospel reminds us that life is much more than we see on this present day. Despair comes before Hope. Sin comes before forgiveness. Death comes before Resurrection.
The years ahead will bring us face to face with the challenges of your faith. You might like a lot of confirmands before you, be unsure how Church fits into all this. That’s O.K. Earlier, I told you the tale of the Runaway Bunny. What the story reminds us is that we never other grow our need for grace. We never outgrow our need for a place that we can truly call our home. We never outgrow the promises given in our baptism and confirmed on this day.
Lily, Mallory, Timmy. “I have you called by name; You are Mine.” –Isaiah 43:1.
Now let me close with words about each of the Confirmands.
Timmy Perfetto-Timmy is the only kid that I’ve ever confirmed who nearly got me banned from a rival school. The Mariners were playing the Two Harbors Agates in Boys Basketball. The year before watching an episode of College Gameday I saw the Washington State flag and thought we needed a Mariner flag both for Silver Bay and away games which Mrs. Ollila then ordered. So I naturally brought the Mariner flag down to our biggest rival in Two Harbors. Our fans were outnumbered on this night like 8-1. The game was close; every Mariner basket brought the flag out to be waved. Mariners win the game after Two Harbors misses a three at the buzzer. I made the mistake of leaving the flag unattended in the immediate aftermath of the game. Next thing I do is turn around to see Timmy running laps with it on the Agates court. I’ve learned that I need to be careful where I bring the flag now in Two Harbors. Timmy is the second Perfetto that I’ve confirmed. . Timmy though has been coming here for years now. As we stand together on this day, Timmy has grown up before my eyes. His coaches couldn’t speak higher of his attitude. Community members speak highly of his work and good manners down at Zup’s. My advice is always to keep your cool as we often tend to overrate the meaning of the present moment.
Mallory Goettl-Mallory started attending classes here because of her good friend Lily Lewis. Mallory was known for her quiet and gentle nature. Our warm-up activity every week would be playing a game of “Would You Rather.” A sample question might be “Would you rather be paid $1,000,000 for every crime you commit, or $50,000 for every time you make someone smile?”
Now with a lot of kids asking these questions would make a person nervous not Mallory. You knew that whatever you asked Mallory her heart would be in the right place. Mallory when she first started coming to Confirmation would always get nervous when put on the spot with any review question, but as time went on, she kept getting more and more assertive. Mallory, my one bit of advice, is never be afraid to let your voice be hard because you’ve got a lot worth saying.
Lily Lewis- When I first got to town, Lily was in fourth grade, and her mom was teaching the class. Lily was the youngest one in the group by three years. It continued this way for three-four years before we had some younger kids enroll. Lily what’s stood out about you so much is that you’ve been going on 18 for so many years now. When Lily was younger, the older kids treated her as their equal because of her maturity level. When I first confirmed kids at Sychar three years ago, Gunnar Frahm and Lily’s brother Zach were the leaders of the group. Lily soon assumed the role because of the respect is given to her by her peers. The same thing is true at William Kelley. Lily as you go deeper into high school, remember the type of impact that you can make on those around you.
As we leave this place on this day, I want you all to cling to the great promise of the Christian faith. No matter where you go in this world, no matter what you become, no matter how far from forgiveness or grace you might be at any given moment. What the story of The Runaway Bunny reminds us is that some promises of relationship are so significant that they never leave you throughout your life. We confirm these promises given in your baptism on this day. Amen
 Kindlon, Dan and Michael Thompson. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. Ballatine Books. Balitmore. 1999. Pg.119.
 Kindlon, Dan and Michael Thompson. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. Pg.119.