Every year when I get the joy and privilege of teaching both our 8th-grade students and their parents during the Confirmation experience, I am reminded of my own Confirmation journey.
My memories range from the group meetings in our small church library gathered around tables with our pastor and church educator to the more intimate home visits with my mentor who was an elder and active member of our church and community. I can’t say that I recall too much of the content and yet I do know that having spent much time in weekly worship, Sunday School, youth group and pretty much any event held at church, I was at home and trusted that I belonged in this special place where my journey would continue with a loving God, family and congregation.
I have one memory that comes with mixed emotions. It centers primarily around the faith-sharing process with the Session. This remains the part of the process that often brings our confirmands and parents angst.
We want the students to take seriously this opportunity to express their faith through reflecting on what they believe at this point about God, Jesus, Church, etc. More importantly we want this sharing of their faith journey to be in the context of a loving faith community where they know they belong and are deeply loved.
We have pondered these important Reformed theological beliefs at length alongside the pastors, staff and mentors and know that failing is not possible and yet I still remember losing sight for a moment of how much love and support filled that room that I sat with the Session more than 40 years ago. Those elders seated around that room were my church schoolteachers, youth leaders, friend’s parents, town mayor and doctor and they wanted nothing more than seeing me and my church friends live out our Christian discipleship in the best way we knew how as middle schoolers. They now are part of a rich community that built the foundation of my ever growing and changing faith and embraced me fully as a beloved child of God. I am grateful for the Confirmation process!
From Big God Big Questions: Confirmation for a Growing Faith
Confirmation is an act of covenant renewal that includes three parties:
- God confirms the Confirmand’s baptismal identity as a child of God
- Confirmands confirm their faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the church
- The congregation confirms the Confirmands gifts and active church membership
In the PC(USA) Confession of 1967, we read that Confirmation is a journey leading to a public profession, a personal response to the love of God shown forth in their baptism.
If there should be only one word to encompass the whole of confirmation it should be “embrace.” Yes, they were embraced, welcomed into the church at baptism, but as life progresses God continues to welcome us into new stages of faith and accountability for it, and we have the opportunity over and over to embrace the covenant in which God embraces us.
— Ron Byars, Embraced and Embracing: Exploring the Foundations of Confirmation
During Lent we are walking toward Jerusalem with Jesus by focusing ourselves on the gospel of Luke and a series of sermons called Finding Jesus in Hard Places: Wrestling with Wilderness Questions. In her book Wholehearted Faith Rachel Held Evans reminds us that practicing the way of Jesus evokes many questions, doubts and uncertainties. She suggests that it’s in this pursuit of “holy exploration” that we often discover Jesus inviting us into abundant life.
Confirmation is a time of holy exploration for our teens, a time to embrace a faith that marked us as children of God at baptism and goes with us as we journey throughout life and all the unknowing and uncertainty we may experience. This gift of grace is exemplified for us in the life of Jesus and in the community of faith that supports our journey and walks with us.
Please join us on Confirmation Sunday, April 2, as we welcome and embrace 26 newly confirmed disciples of Jesus Christ into the life of faith at First Presbyterian Greensboro. We look forward to their sharing their gifts with us and growing as active church members.