What does this mean?

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

Acts 2:1-4,6,12

Teaching the confirmation class for Holy Trinity this year was so much fun! Joel Cruz and I were the main fixtures in the St. Mark’s Room every Sunday at 10am with nine confirmands. Pastor Craig and Pastor Michelle joined us frequently for special sessions and to chime in on Ask a Pastor? questions (which ranged from queries about heaven/hell all the way to “flavors” of communion bread). Parents provided us with snacks (a necessity for this hungry group!) and faithfully supported our efforts. Our class really bonded, especially over our confirmation mascot (a stuffed, orange alpaca we named Dominic) and during our confirmation retreat at Lutherdale in February….where I learned that a toboggan is not a hat but a sled. We enjoyed collaborating together for our group participation in the Epiphany festival and our interpretative reading of the Noah story for the Easter vigil.

One of the questions that appears frequently in Luther’s Small Catechism, our main text for confirmation is, “What does this mean?” We asked this question as we studied the articles of the Apostles’ Creed and learned more in-depth about the sacraments of baptism and eucharist. We asked this question as we explored our faith convictions through themes of care for creation, boundaries and bodies, ethics, vocation, peace and politics. We asked this question to discern what does this mean, to live out our Christian faith in the world?

This same question, “What does this mean?” appears in our reading for Pentecost this week as the Holy Spirit descends on the new church. Amazed and perplexed, they ask one another, “What does this mean?” What do we do with this? How will our lives be changed by the power of God? What action must we take as a result?

Our confirmands have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in this community. For them, “What does this mean?” will be a lifelong question. It’s not a question that is answered easily or simply. It’s a question to be lived into and then asked again and then revisited throughout their lives. It’s not a question that they will answer alone. It’s a question they will continually explore together in their communities, with those who are brave enough to stand in the mystery with them.