A Letter To The 2020 Confirmation Class

Our long-awaited Confirmation Sunday FINALLY happened this morning!  It took some careful planning, but we showed up, wore our masks and CELEBRATED our eight confirmands who worked hard this year and waited patiently for their moment.

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And what a moment it was. <3

Here is my annual letter to the confirmation class!  Enjoy …

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Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
October 18, 2020

Acts 2:1-21

A Letter to the 2019-2020 Confirmation Class

Dear Faith, Sara, Nick, Becky, Bethany, Liv, Jacob and Camryn.

I am so sorry.  This was not how this was supposed to end.

I was putting the gathering music together yesterday and remembered that we took a photo of you all at the end of our first confirmation class last fall.  I went looking for that photo to include it in the music; when I found it, I started to cry.  It was the eight of you, all huddled together for a photo – inside – big smiles – no masks. This photo was taken on October 20, 2019 – almost one year ago today; today, when we are finally able to gather for your confirmation – outside – distanced – and with masks.

So much has changed this year.

And I am sorry.  I am sorry that we did not have a clear understanding of what we were going to do back in March, I am sorry that it took me so long to figure out how we were going to gather for your confirmation, I am sorry that we had to have our last couple of classes on Zoom and I am sorry that the world is just turned upside down right now and that you guys are caught in the middle of our – the adults that surround you – very limited knowledge about how to handle life in a pandemic.

You might have figured this out already, but we do not really know what we are doing.

But here we are – we moved mountains and masked up and spread six feet apart so that we can finally bear witness to the moment where you affirm your baptismal vows and officially join the Rehoboth Congregational Church.

So here’s the deal:  I know the world is kind of a mess right now.  But please do not lose faith.

Please do not lose faith in the people that are trying to bring us to the other side of this pandemic or the people who are trying to safely help us resume some semblance of normal life in the meantime.  Please do not lose faith in your church that is stumbling its way through covid-life through trial and error – sometimes having great success and sometimes having the live feed of worship interrupted because the pastor forgot to put her phone on do not disturb and she got a phone call during her sermon.

Most importantly – please do not lose faith in God.  Please do not lose faith in our creating, redeeming and sustaining God.  Our God who is here with us, walking with us on this crazy journey.  Our God who is weeping alongside us as we lose things and opportunities and milestones and people to this virus.  Our God who wants us to care for one another and work together as the Body of Christ to slow the spread.  Our God who wants us – who needs us now more than ever – to boldly and courageously proclaim the Gospel so that world can have hope.

Faith, Sara, Nick, Becky, Bethany, Liv, Jacob and Camryn – be part of that hope.

Stick around and help us figure out how to do church right now.  I know it is bizarre and a lot of the things that you love to do, as a group, are not on the list of approved activities right now.  But the work we are doing is so important and so necessary and we need you.  We need you to help us do church; to figure out how to be safe right now, but also still be meaningful, relevant and accessible to all.  We need you to be part of our church – our village – as we offer hope, comfort and healing to those in need.  We need to hear your voices because they matter and because they are valued and because we, as a church, are stronger because of them.

Please do not go anywhere.  Have faith that we will get to the other side of this, that we will learn a lot along the way and that we will emerge stronger on the other side.

And you know what?  I said at the beginning of this letter that this was not how this was supposed to end.  But confirmation really is not the end – it is actually the beginning.  So, as strange as it seems, today is the first day of a new chapter of your journey of faith – one you likely will never forget!

So even though it was not the moment I envisioned back in September – enjoy this moment.  Enjoy the handmade masks.  Enjoy the beautiful fresh air.  Enjoy being livestreamed to everyone watching at home (I know a lot of people pull worship up on their TVs, so you’re on TV!).  Know that everyone in the church has been praying for you and is so happy to be part of this with you.

Faith, Sara, Nick, Becky, Bethany, Liv, Jacob and Camryn – you are so loved.  And we are all so proud of you.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

Preaching in Pumps Podcast Artwork

A Letter To The 2018 Confirmation Class

Hi friends! It is my tradition on Confirmation Sunday to write a letter to the Confirmation Class for my sermon. This year’s class was amazing and I was so humbled by the authenticity of the statements of faith they turned in.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Pentecost! It is crazy to me to think that last year I didn’t get to preach Pentecost because it was late (first Sunday in June) and I was in the hospital with a new baby! The year went fast …

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Here’s a picture of our altar from Pentecost!  I loved the way it turned out.

Have a safe holiday weekend!

Sarah

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Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
May 20, 2018

Acts 2:1-21

A Letter To The 2018 Confirmation Class

Dear Julia, Cassandra, Lexi and Eric,

I have to be honest – I was not sure how Confirmation was going to go this year.

First of all, I was a little out of practice. Not only did we not have a Confirmation class last year, but I was also fresh off of maternity leave – slightly sleep deprived and not sure how to balance this whole ministry and motherhood thing.

Second of all, the church was in a bit of a transition. Lauren and Jordan had just moved and we were getting ready to vote on a new governance structure. A lot felt like it was up in the air at the church; it was hard to teach about RCC history when I felt like we were, instead, living it out in very real time.

And lastly, the demographic of your class is unlike any one I had ever experienced here before. All four of you live in different towns and attend different high schools; not one of you attends Dighton-Rehoboth High School.

On a small scale, I think your class actually represents a shift happening in the demographic of our church community right now. More and more, instead of just coming here because people live in town and that is what they are supposed to do, people are coming from different towns to intentionally be part of this church and this community. People want to be here! It is an exciting time to be part of the Rehoboth Congregational Church; and I am so grateful, not only that you decided to be part of the confirmation class this year, but also that you are making the commitment to join and become a member of this church.

But that being said, the four of you did not really know one another when we started our time together. So, rather than just jumping in, we started with a covenant. We sat down and brainstormed what we wanted to get out of the year and what we wanted our classes to look like. Here is what the covenant said:

As members of this year’s confirmation class, we promise to create a safe space where we are all welcome and free to be the most authentic versions of ourselves. We promise to be active listeners and contribute honest participation with mutual respect for one another. We will joyfully include music and worship into our classes and hope to have fun, maybe learn something and possibly even teach something. We will create a comfortable space, bringing delicious food and fostering fellowship and fun. Laughter will fill our space and love will always win.

I can say with confidence that we did all of these things. We talked, we sang, we laughed and we turned to Google when we were confused. You told stories and taught us about school, pop culture and what is actually cool (versus what we thought was cool). We respected one another, genuinely cared about what was going on in each other’s lives and followed up on things we had talked about in previous months. We had conversations that were relevant to our topics of conversation and also occasionally got sidetracked. I have to admit, that, in achieving the delicious food portion of this covenant, I have a new appreciation for the loaves and fishes story. I realized this year that perhaps God might not always provide by multiplying the loaves, but in having me conveniently schedule class on days when we had a luncheon after church and plenty of leftovers for our evening meal, otherwise one evening dinner might have consisted of meatloaf, potato chips and jello that hadn’t set yet.

Every month, I started off our classes by asking you the same thing: What are three things you’re loving? And while I am sure you are grateful to no longer have to come up with three new things to love every month, I do hope you appreciated and learned something from the practice, itself. It is good to force yourself to think about the things in life you love; it is good to find and see joy, even when things are hard.

Because the world, as imperfect as it is and as hard as it can be to live in it sometimes, is beautiful. There is so much to be thankful for. There is so much to appreciate. There is so much to love.

But I hope you know that it is also okay to say, “You know, it’s been a really hard week, so I’m going to need to go last so I have more time to think of something.” If you remember, the adult mentors groaned as much as, if not more than, you did, when I asked this question. Sometimes I had a hard time coming up with three things and I was the one that ASKED the question! The truth is, life can be hard; you will face challenges along your journeys and you will not always love life.

I wish in confirming you I could protect you from these challenges.

But here’s the thing: This is why you have a church community. This is why you surround yourself with people who love God and love another. This is why you have safe spaces, like our worship, bible studies, committee communities, community events and missions activities, where you can be the most unapologetically authentic version of yourself, no matter how whole or how broken you happen to feel.

Because this church can and will be your spiritual tribe. This church will love you and love you hard through all of the challenges of life. This church will pray for you and share your burdens. This church will show up with meals, prayer shawls and the occasional sing-a-long. This church will laugh with you, cry with you, celebrate with you and share in your sorrows and frustrations.

A couple of weeks ago, I preached a sermon on “doing church,” and I talked about the fact that church is verb, not a noun. And so today, I invite you to “do church” with us. As of today, you are no longer children of this church; you are members of this church, the Rehoboth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ.

And I want that to mean something in your life. I want this church to change your life. I want this church to open your eyes and your minds and your hearts to the Gospel; to world that is just and fair, to a light that shines even in the darkest of places and to a grace that can be uncovered in the most unexpected ways.

And I want this church to be changed by you, as well.

Julia, Cassandra, Lexi and Eric, I was blown away by the work you did in Confirmation this year. I said that I did not know how Confirmation was going to go this year, but the truth is, God did something so much cooler than I ever could have dreamed up myself. I never could have predicted how strong of a community we would create, how easily our conversations would flow and how much we would learn about one another. I truly loved our meetings this year.

Even more than that, it was so much fun to watch each one of you get involved in different ways in the wider church community.

Lexi, you faithfully sang in the choir, week after week, made delicious baked goods for this year’s dessert auction and took charge during last week’s children’s sermon, getting all of our supplies and offering to water and care for the flowers we planted.

Julia, you played your viola in your worship, made the most creative baked goods for the dessert auction and made the guacamole for our taco bar that was so good it was gone by the time I went through the line.

Cassandra, you valiantly balanced cheerleading and confirmation for most of the year. You often came running in to our meetings, still in your uniform and jumped right into the conversation, without missing a beat. You volunteered at the cookie walk at the bazaar and served at our lunches and suppers.

Eric, you surprised us all with how well spoken and poised you are. You led worship at the Easter sunrise service and last week better than most of the pastors I went to seminary with. And you were always up for a challenge, even if that challenge meant paddling a kayak in the rain at 5:30AM on Easter morning.

I could not be more proud of the young adults that you are – and the church members that you have become.

So thank you. Thank you for the community. Thank you for the laughter. Thank you for conversations. Thank you for the grace. Thank you for the food. Thank you for sharing the things you are loving. Thank you for making this a year of confirmation I will never forget.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

Preaching in Pumps Podcast Artwork

A Letter To The 2015 Confirmation Class

We had an incredible Confirmation Sunday!  Here is my annual letter to the confirmation class …

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(Post-prayer as selfie as we lined up for the procession.)

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Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
May 17, 2015

Letter To The 2015 Confirmation Class

Dear Jack, Justin, Emily, Cameron, Ryan, Hannah, Tim, Tom and Ryan,

Two years ago, most of you moved from the 5th & 6th grade class to the Sadie Perry Room for 7th & 8th grade Church School. For two years, your teachers told me the same thing over and over again: These kids can be a handful sometimes, but they are also pretty funny and they actually really smart. This year, I finally understood what they were talking about.

Whether we were sharing a meal together, getting to know one another through silly icebreaker games, learning about the bible, the Christian faith and our church, debating over who was going to offer the prayer before dinner, worshiping together, wrestling with challenging questions, asking one another to hold our loved ones in prayer, leading worship together or acting out the entire Book of Genesis with props from the Children’s Day photo booth, suffice is to say we covered a lot of ground this year. You all showed your wisdom, your wit, your humor and your thoughtfulness.

I can honestly say that I never sat through one of our confirmation classes without laughing hysterically at some point at something one of you said or did. But I can also even more honestly say that I never left one of our confirmation classes without feeling inspired, hopeful and truly grateful for the opportunity to be able to walk with you all on your journeys of faith.

Today you are being confirmed. This means you will confirm the baptismal vows that people took on your behalf when you were younger. This means you will state publically – in front of God and your church family – that you want to stick around and see how this whole faith thing can work in your life. This means you know in your heart that while you are not perfect, that God’s love is more powerful than your imperfections and that God’s grace will transform you in incredible ways. This means that you are ready to listen to who and where and what God is calling you to be – and that you are ready to take the next step on your journey of faith.

I am so looking forward to seeing where each of your journeys will take you. You are smart, talented, funny, caring and thoughtful. You are athletes, you are musicians and you are writers. You work with technology and you work with your hands. You show compassion towards your friends and your families and with one another. As members of this church, you each will bring something so unique and so special to this community that we all love so much.

So before you make this commitment, I have one thing to ask of you: Don’t go anywhere. Please. Stick around and see what it is like to be an active part of this community. Allow God to transform your gifts and your talents into powerful ministries in this church.

I know you all are very busy. This is probably the first time since the beginning of the year that all nine of you are actually together. You are very involved in school activities, sports and community programs. You balance more activities and face more pressure than most of the adults sitting around you today. I love hearing about those activities and am so proud of the ways that you are fulfilled and thriving in different parts of your lives.

But this church needs you. We – the members of the Rehoboth Congregational Church – all need you. We need your minds, your passions and your talents. We need your faith and your questions and your sense of humor. We need your new ideas and your innovation. We need you to stick around and figure out what God is calling us to do together.

So stick around. Do not come to this church because your parents are making you; come to this church because God is calling you to.

Come to this church because this is where your friends are, where your church family is. Come to this church because this church is stronger and more faithful with you than it is without you. Come to this church to help you find balance in your life, to be free from the pressures of the outside world and so that you can be reminded week after week that you are a blessed and loved child of God.

Come to this church and be part of this community. We are not perfect. We do not have all the answers. But we do the best we can to dwell in God’s love, to love and support one another and to practice the Good News of the resurrection both inside the walls of our church and outside in the community.

So on behalf of this congregation, I am thrilled and honored to say: Welcome! Welcome to this church. Welcome to this community. Welcome to this beautifully imperfect, unapologetically authentic, grace-filled and abundantly blessed community of faith.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of us.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.