Next month, Eldest will be confirmed at church. He’s already a member (due to our polity), but in January he will publicly confirm the vows his father and I made at his baptism. He will confirm his faith along with 39 other youth who have been with him over the last year of confirmation. As part of this journey, each confirmand has written a statement of faith that is shared with the congregation (in written form).
I have the privilege of helping prepare some elements of the confirmation worship service. One is creating a slide show with excerpts from each confirmands’ statement of faith. This week, I sat down and read all of the statements to find a few lines to share during the service.
And I was blown away.
As an adult, I can get pretty caught up in the importance of my life and the decisions I need to make. I pay bills and make food. I choose the influences brought into our home (of course, this is hubris because this is one of many things I can’t really control unless none of us ever leave our home). I don’t make life and death decisions as a course of my profession, but as a pastor, eternal life and death are part of my daily work. Of course, the decisions freshmen in high school make pale in comparison. Once again, hubris.
Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15, NLT)
As I read through the statements of faith, I am reminded of how precious life is and the significance of each experience and how it forms and shapes us. I read of struggles with peer pressure, bullying, health, fear, family struggles, death and apathy. I hear stories of how God has spoken through Scripture, circumstance and godly people. Some students I don’t know at all, but for many I know a bit of their back-story. And this makes their statements of FAITH that much more beautiful and amazing. There is more courage, honesty and faithfulness in their words than in most of our “adult” conversations. How many of us admit out loud that we are sinners? How many of us admit that we don’t have it all figured out and still have a lot of questions? How many of us can truly say that we know God loves us unconditionally and won’t walk away from us when we become a hot mess? These students confess this and more in their statements of faith.
A second privilege is writing a prayer with the confirmands. The format is an excerpt from a statement of faith and a congregational response from Scripture. One night this week I sat down with a 15-year-old boy to write this. But as it turned out, I was only there to be a scribe. He came up with scripture after scripture – by book, chapter and verse. Together, we took their words, God’s words and wove together a beautiful prayer of adoration and confession. Did I say it was a privilege to do this? It is – and pure joy.
I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. (Mark 10:15, NLT)
And that brings me to the reflections that brought me to putting my thoughts to paper. These young people are not going to “be confirmed.” That is something that is done to them – probably by the adults who are sitting in the pews or lead worship on the chancel. The confirmands are not passive recipients. They are active participants in their faith – and I hope, in the life of the church.
No, they are not “being confirmed” but they are confirming the relationship that God initiated even before they were born.
They are continuing to say “yes” to the “yes” God has said to them. A conversation and relationship that is just beginning to unfold, and I pray never ends.
I don’t know if I can call their faith the “faith of a child” because it is not simple or accepted blindly. Of course, I don’t think this is what Jesus meant anyway. I believe Jesus calls us to allow ourselves to depend on others, to be vulnerable and honest with one another (and God). I believe Jesus calls us to trust not in ourselves but in the Body of Christ (and Christ who is its head). I believe Jesus calls us to allow others to guide and walk with us in our life (and led by the Holy Spirit).
If you haven’t ever written a statement of faith, I encourage you to do so. There are a lot of formats you can use, but it’s your statement, so it should be your format. But here are a few ideas:
- what my life was like before Jesus, what Jesus has done for me, what my life is like with Jesus
- what I believe about the Trinity, Scripture, Sacraments and Church
- personal reflection on your life verse.
Today, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for those who have spoken and practiced truth in the lives of these confirmands. I’m thankful for these confirmands who have allowed God to saturate their lives and their willingness to share it with us. I’m thankful to the God who calls each one of us and who gives us one another to do life with. May God give us all the ability to receive Christ like a child.