Yesterday, in between worship services, I was asked to speak to a mother and daughter about confirmation. Still new to the congregation, I felt awkward answering questions about the intricacies of the program. But, the mother only had one question, could I make a compelling case to her skeptical daughter why she should attend confirmation?
My case began in her baptism. She was baptized into a faith based on a promise. A promise the Church and her parents would instruct her about what her baptism means. It was also to provide her the resources necessary to make an informed decision about whether she would continue to grow in faith. How could she ever know whether Jesus was worth following if she never learned what it meant?
Most importantly, I told her, it was to encounter the transformative power of Christ’s love. This love is a hope-filled alternative to a world constantly seeking to destroy us with fear. Faith does more than help us cope, it heals our wounds. I’m not sure I always fully understand how; I just know it does.
In today’s reading, a centurion asks Jesus to heal his slave. The centurion knows he doesn’t deserve Jesus’ attention, but believes, if Jesus says the words his slave would be healed. These kind of stories shape our understanding of healing. We tend to think of miraculous events which pull people back from the brink of death. Or, something radical like regaining sight or the ability to walk. I would argue the transformative power of Christ’s love heals much more subtly.
This past week two friends reached out to say how much they enjoyed these daily devotions. For one, reading the devotions had led him to also read the scripture verses. The combination was helping him gain perspective on his life and work. It was also helping him discover a deep joy. The other was a person half way around the world serving the poor. Before serving the poor was ever a thought in her mind, there was a dynamic encounter with Christ’s transformative power. This love heals the soul and leads us out into the world to proclaim the power of its healing. (Luke 7: 1-10)