They are such small words "I do," "I will." Certainly not the kind of words that get you big points in scrabble - but the kinds of words that promises are made with.
Today I heard those words spoken by about fifty students that were part of the Confirmation Class of 2011 that I helped lead. They said "I do" to putting their whole trust in Christ's grace-amongst other things- and "I will" to being loyal to the United Methodist church. Their convinction was strong. As strong as a 12-year old could muster. And their parents were proud and their friends were excited for them.
Witnessing that commitment of those confirmands has come in the midst of a beautiful time in my life when I get to hear "I dos" and "I wills" very regularly. It seems like once a month there is a wedding to attend...and though each one has its own uniquities and quirks, the words of promise, small though they may be, are always there. And I believe that as my friends make those promises, and say those words, their conviction is strong. As strong as they can muster. And their parents are proud and their friends are excited for them.
And I hope that for all these making promises, the convinction never fails. I feel confident (and hope) that my sweet, idealistic confirmands will question and consider new dynamics to their faith as they become adults. But that is not the failure we sometimes make it out to be; I hope that if I have taught them nothing else, they have learned that questioning and considering is just fine. Its their effort that should not falter. And for my friends who say I do and I will to cherish and love in sickness and in health, there will be questions and new dynamics to their relationship. But that is not a failure and I hope that we all remind one another of that.
The most poignant part of the vows that we make to join the church or to marry or to be baptized - is that we do not stop with I do. We do not make only a commitment for that moment in time. We also say "I will," cementing our future commitment to another person, to the church, to our faith.
I forgot to mention that I also joined the church this morning; this is the 5th church I have joined as a professing member of the United Methodist Church. And though it felt familiar, it was a new commitment of my prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. I can't say that every day since I joined the church in 1996, I have lived out my promise of prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. But I can renew my commitment to that, renew my promise to making an effort; and just as I said those "I dos" and "I wills" this morning, I prepare my heart now to say those small, simple words alongside Jason come September....I do and I will.