There are probably ten different variations on a dark joke told among us Lutherans over the years.   Let’s go with the squirrel version.

A little town gets invaded by a horde of squirrels.  There are squirrels everywhere. The townsfolk don’t know how to get rid of them.  

So the town council asks one of their committees to do something.  They agree. They set all kinds of traps and release the squirrels outside of town.  But pretty soon they’re all back again.

The town council approaches the police.  They do some shooting and for a time, the squirrels are scared off.  But soon enough, they’re back again.

Finally the town council approaches the Lutheran pastor in town.  No problem, says the preacher. The next day, the squirrels are all gone.  And they stay gone.

The mightily impressed town council asks the preacher what he did to get rid of the squirrels.  “Easy,” said the preacher. “I just baptized and confirmed them all. You’ll never see them again.”    

It’s humor, but we Lutherans all know that it is dark humor.  Behind the laughter is the tragic truth that many white-robed youngsters have stood before the altar, their fresh faces frozen on a photograph, pledging to be faithful in their use of the gospel in Word and Sacraments and to remain true to the Triune God even unto death – and then we never see them again.

Many confirmands over the years have chosen as their confirmation passage: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 EHV).  In the days before the great Flood, the Bible tells us that only 8 people were left who remained faithful – only 8 people in the whole world – Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.  We are not the first generation to see the ranks of true believers dwindle, to see faithfulness falter. But God grant that we may be found in the blessed minority of those who remain faithful until death to our Lord Jesus and His Word.  May parents, children, teachers and pastors join hearts to help each other on the path toward the crown of life.