Monday, October 31, 2011

Confirmation

My youngest child was confirmed yesterday.

Like her two older brothers, the journey to this day included two years and two months of classes, sermon notes, servant projects, and fellowship time.  She wrote a faith statement and chose a Bible verse. She stood before the congregation, affirmed her faith and promised to:
~~ live among God’s faithful people ~~ hear the Word  ~~ share the Lord’s Supper  ~~ tell about the Good News of God in how we live ~~ serve people by following Jesus ~~ work for justice and peace in the world.
After this public affirmation, my husband and I joined her at the altar. We stood behind her, placed our hands on her shoulders, and blessed her. 


I value my denomination’s and my individual congregation’s process of study, and I’m thankful for the support and encouragement our congregation has showered on my family, but I also know that the work she’s completed will take her only so far. To grow, she’ll have to ask more questions and struggle through responses that will, at times, appear contradictory. Then, she’ll have to apply her conclusions to real-life situations

… On a path that’s bound to be filled with twists, turns, roadblocks, and potholes
… And at a speed that’s no longer dictated by parents.

Of course, I hope she and her two brothers will continue to worship and study in the faith communities with which they’re most familiar (ELCA Lutheran and Methodist), but more importantly, I hope they’ll expose themselves to the world and the neighbors with whom they share it. I hope they’ll learn about other faith communities and listen to the stories that built those communities.  I hope they’ll see the similarities and be respectful of the differences.

Spiritual journeys are individual by nature and necessity, but “individual” doesn’t mean “in solitude.” That’s why I ask my husband and the grandmas, grandpa, aunts, and uncles to handwrite a short note to my confirmand. Some share a favorite Bible passage and others, a poem or personal story. I’m sure my kids won't re-read the booklet I create of these letters for several months--and maybe years—after this Confirmation Sunday, but I know that when they do, they’ll find reassurance of unconditional love and a reminder that there are many who hold them in prayer and give thanks for their lives.

Here’s my letter:
Dear  Ellen/Geoff/Nate,
I don’t remember if I chose a Bible verse for Confirmation, nor do I remember writing much of a faith statement. I’ve also never been a stickler for word-for-word memory work because I think, that sometimes, the memory work is just about words, not meaning or life application. But your faith statement and that memory work are a beginning -- a foundation on which to begin your journey.
It’s easy to have faith now. You go to church with us. You hang out with friends we know. You make choices, partly because you know what we expect and you know we’d be disappointed otherwise.
Change will be the biggest challenge to your faith. High School. Work. College. Moving. You’ll be faced with changes each year – and that’s when your statement of faith will become the most meaningful, the Bible passages most relevant. Your confirmation classes have introduced you to the places to turn to for answers – the Bible and the people who care about you. Never be afraid or embarrassed to turn to them.
I love you, and I'm proud of you
Mom 
"The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”                                                                                              The Wise and Foolish Builders –  Matthew 7:24-27
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Linking to Michelle and the Here it on Sunday, Use it on Monday community: