Sunday’s sermon – so proud of my Confirmation Class!
A Letter To The Confirmation Class
Dear Caleb, Rachel, Sophia and Abbie,
I cannot believe that our time together is over. It seems like just yesterday that we gathered for the first time in Fellowship Hall and began talking about what it means to think about faith.
When our discussions first started, you always kind of silently looked at me with perplexed expressions on your faces. “Why does Rev. Sarah keep asking us for our thoughts and opinions?” your faces always seemed to read. “Isn’t she supposed to be teaching this class?”
Well … yes.
But … no.
Confirmation is about learning about the church – both the Church universal and the church that we are a part of. But it is also about starting to explore your own faith. Because as you prepare to take part in the Rite of Confirmation, as you get ready to affirm your baptismal vows and become a member of the Rehoboth Congregational Church, I think it is important that you not only know about the histories and traditions of the church that you are joining, but that you also start to think about how you can influence the future of it as well.
At the very beginning of our time together, I asked you and your mentors to write down what you would change about the church if you had unlimited funds and no other limitations. While the mentors scribbled furiously about paint, air conditioning, increased staff and more, you all politely looked at one another and then at me. “I don’t know,” you kept on saying. “I think the church is okay!”
Caleb, Rachel, Sophia and Abbie – you were right. The church is okay – in fact, I may be biased, but I think our church is pretty spectacular and in an incredible place right now.
But that was not the point of the exercise.
The point of the exercise was to get the four of you to start to take stock in this church, for you to feel like the church is just as much yours as it is your mentors, your parents and the people who have been members for their whole lives. And while you weren’t quite ready to make that list back in the fall – I think you may be now.
Over the past nine months, the four of you have completely opened up. You have actively taken part in our conversations and asked insightful questions. You have stepped up, both in worship and in the community. You led worship in various capacities throughout the year – and read strongly, even at those times when I asked at the last minute and only gave you a few minutes to prepare.
As we continued to meet throughout the year, I watched as each of you engaged within the life of the church. You attended fundraisers and community events. You helped out in the church school and with the missions committee. You were – and I hope continue to be – active participants in Senior High Youth Group events. Without complaint, you showed up at the Anawan at 5:45 on Easter morning to lead the Sunrise Service AND you rolled almost $400 in coins after our One Great Hour Of Sharing collection. You never seemed to come and be involved because anyone was making you; you always seemed like you genuinely wanted to be here.
Sometimes it is hard for teachers to really know what their students are absorbing. And since I am a firm believer that Confirmation should not involve tests, I always have to take it on faith that you are learning and growing throughout the process.
A few weeks ago, I realized I had nothing to worry about.
The five of us were meeting in my office to plan the worship service that you led on May 5th. Because one of our meetings had been cancelled we were running out of time to plan and I was not really sure how the service would come together. And you know me – I get a little bit picky about worship.
Well, you outdid yourselves.
I hope I never forget the joy I felt in my heart as I worked at my desk and listened to the four of you dig through hymnals, bibles, concordances and liturgy to put together that service. You were thoughtful and faithful in your planning. You laughed and had fun with the process. You wanted to make sure the service had a theme, made sense and flowed together. You worked together to write a beautiful description of the service without any help from me. You wanted the congregation to find meaning in the worship you were putting together.
And they did.
I received so many calls, messages, emails and texts in the week that followed that service telling me what a wonderful job the four of you did.
I think if I were to ask you today what you would change about the church if you had unlimited funds and no other limitations, the conversation would be different than it was nine months ago. And not because you really want change anything – because you know that you do have a voice, that this is your church and that you are ready to become members.
If you take one thing away from this year, let it be this: Faith is truly a journey. You will never find all the answers, understand completely and know exactly what you believe. And that is okay. Because you are constantly growing, moving and changing. Just enjoy the journey.
As we celebrate Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit within the Church, remember that as a member of the Church universal, you are always strengthened, supported and lifted up by the Holy Spirit.
But as we celebrate the four of you on this Confirmation Sunday, remember as well that as a member of the Rehoboth Congregational Church, you are always strengthened, supported and lifted up by the people sitting in this sanctuary today.
I am so proud of you.
Wishing you grace – unexpected,
p.s. Confirmation does NOT mean you get to stop coming to church.
Thanks be to God!