We Are About Relationships
This Sunday, May 4, is Confirmation Sunday. We will be confirming a large group of sixth graders and older youth who have been on a journey of learning, sharing and serving together over the past few months. We have such a large group that we will be confirming some folks at 8:30 and some at 11:00, so no matter what service you attend, you’ll have a chance to be part of this big day. As our congregation prepares to celebrate this important moment with the confirmands, I thought it might be helpful for all of us to refresh our memories of what confirmation is all about.
In our United Methodist tradition, many children are baptized when they are infants. When a baby is baptized, it is her parents who make the vows of baptism. They profess their own faith in Christ and then promise to raise their child in the church so that she will one day “accept God’s grace” and “choose to lead a Christian life.” The congregation also takes a vow. When I was growing up, the old liturgy put that vow so beautifully: we promised to “live a life that becomes the Gospel.” In other words, we promise to live out our faith with and in front of this child so that she will learn how much God loves her and see what a life of discipleship looks like.
So, our hope as a congregation, as we nurture and teach (and learn from!) the children around us, is that they will fall in love with Christ and choose for themselves to become his disciples. When a person is ready to make that choice, to profess his faith openly and to choose a life of following Jesus, he is confirmed as a Christian and as a member of the church. We call it “confirmation” because he is confirming the baptismal vows that may have been made on his behalf when he was too young to answer for himself.
It’s important to note that not all of the children in our congregation have been baptized, and some who are being confirmed will actually be baptized at the same time and take the vows for themselves. Confirmation still means the same thing. They have arrived at a point in their journey with God where they are ready to choose for themselves, and they are choosing to follow Christ.
This is a huge moment for these young people and for our congregation. Can you hear it? They are choosing to follow Christ! That’s huge! As a parent of one of the confirmands this year, it’s an incredible moment in our life as a family. I can’t even put into words how excited and proud I am that my son is making this choice.
Being a Christian is a lifelong journey, and confirmation is one step on that journey. Confirmation is not a starting point, nor is it an ending point. It’s a step. But it’s a big step. And our whole congregation needs to join in the celebration of this moment together. We’re all on a journey of faith together, and on Sunday we will welcome a whole bunch of new companions on that journey. I hope that you will be praying for these young people as they prepare for Sunday. I hope you will send them a card and welcome them into the church. I hope you will be here on Sunday to witness their vows and to renew your own commitment to Christ.
May we all celebrate what God has done and is doing in the lives of these young people and in the life of the church. God is amazing!