Sunday was a busy, BUSY Sunday! Pentecost, Confirmation, Baptism, Prayer Shawl Blessing AND my dad was in town playing the organ! I have a great fabric installation to share on here once I retrieve the photos from my camera, too. Here is my “sermon” aka my annual letter to the Confirmation class. Enjoy!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
May 15, 2016
2016 Letter To The Confirmands
Dear Josh, Tatum, Preston, Kyle, Emma and Kyle,
I had no idea what to expect when we started on our journey together this year. I had worked with most of you separately at various points throughout the years, but never as a collective unit.
I got home from our first meeting together and my face hurt from laughing so hard. I walked into the church office that week and declared you “the most hilarious group of confirmands I have ever taught.” I have never met a group of students with such quick wit, subtle sarcasm and entertaining punchlines. You do not miss a thing and it is safe to say that you kept me on my toes all year.
Suffice it to say, you have come a long way from the 4th graders that I met when I moved to Rehoboth. You are smart, you are inquisitive and you are willing to take risks. You are turning into fine young adults and I am proud to bear witness that.
I usually take time during our last Sunday night confirmation class to offer some final words of wisdom on church and faith. But since it was 70° that day and I sent you outside for most of the class to “work on your statements of faith,” you get that wisdom here instead.
A few weeks ago, we were talking about your statements of faith and I was giving you examples of what you could say – “I believe in this” or “I believe in that” when one of you raised your hand and asked, “But what if we don’t believe that?” I said it then, but it is worth repeating now: You do not have to believe what you think the rest of us want you to believe. Believe what you believe – and be authentic in that.
Remember that you are allowed to make mistakes. During bible study on Tuesday morning, I underlined this passage in Ecclesiastes:
Remember: there’s no one on earth so righteous as to do good only and never make a mistake. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
We all make mistakes, but those mistakes are not what define us. It is what we do after our mistakes that counts; that is what makes us who we are. When we, as a Church, confirm you and welcome you into our community of faith, we are not asking you to be perfect; we are simply asking you to open yourself up to the possibility of grace.
It is okay to ask questions. It is okay to have doubts. It is okay to not believe every single word that is written in the bible. It is okay to be confused by all of this religious stuff. Trust me; I am. It is okay to believe some of it, but not all of it. Like I said: Be authentic in what you believe.
All that being said: I still want you to come to church.
Here’s the thing: Your commitments are over and done. You do not have to come to church anymore.
But I do not want you to come to church because you have to; I want you to come to church because you want to. I want you to come to church not because you believe everything I say or because you want to be known as the kid in school who goes to church (though, for the record, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that); I want you to come to church because this is a safe space for you to be you.
I want you to come to church because this is a place where you can reflect on life and get support from people who truly care about you.
I want you to come to church because this is a place where you can serve others, see a world outside of the one that you are living in and learn how to show compassion and humility and kindness.
I want you to come to and be part of the church because – quite frankly – service to the church looks great on college, honor society and job applications. You all have the capacity within you to do great things and we, as a Church, want to help you reach your fullest potential.
I want you to come to church because we want to be part of your stories; and, perhaps even more importantly, this church needs you to be a part of its story as well.
Today you will be confirmed. I will lay hands on you, as others have laid hands on me in the past, a sign of the passing on of the Holy Spirit from one person to another. Your parents and mentors and I will pray over you, asking God to come into your heart and give you courage in your belief, whatever that might look like.
So be brave. Be humble. Be courageous. Be kind. Work hard. Take risks. Embrace the unknown. Strive for excellence. Show compassion. Extend grace. Love without fear. Shine light in a world that too often is filled with darkness.
Put your imprint on this church, on your community and on the world. Go and be extraordinary.
Thanks be to God!