Thoughts On a Confirmation Service

Today, our church celebrates confirmation. Confirmation in the Lutheran church is just that: confirmation by these young people of the faith that was given to them in baptism, taught to them by their parents, grandparents, godparents, pastors and teachers, and grown and nurtured in them by the Holy Spirit. Today, they stand before their church and say without shame: this is my faith, my church, and I am walking in it.

Our church encourages them to lead the worship service; to choose a personal expression of their own faith that means something to them, and then to present it as part of the worship service. Some read Scriptures. Some write and deliver statements of faith. Some sing, some play instruments, some do sketches, some get still more creative.

It’s a brave and powerful moment, and it makes me so proud of them as their pastor. This particular group I have known (mostly) since they were in fourth grade. Watching them grow is an honor. I see parents beaming and crying, family surrounding them and church family applauding them, and I have to work to fight back the tears.

Confirmation makes me cry, and I think it always will. I go from blessing them as children at 8:30 to communing them as fellow members at 11:00. Lord willing, I will one day confirm and commune my own children, though not my Daniel, whose faith has already been confirmed, perfected and completed. I think about the confirmation I will never see, every year, and it adds tears of sorrow to the tears of pride.

But I am so humbled and honored to be the one to confirm the faith of the children of our church. Other churches give their children first communion months or years before they are confirmed in their faith, while others withhold baptism until after their faith is confirmed. I have theological reasons I disagree with both, but mostly I think both miss out – on the beauty of baptizing an infant; of offering your child to God in complete trust to His care – and on the impact of a young man or woman publicly declaring their faith, and then receiving for the first time the sacramental gifts of God through holy communion.

It is humbling and exciting to see young people stand up and show what their Savior means to them, and to see an congregation of mature believers convicted and compelled to be equally unashamed of their own faith. These are just some of the many gifts our great God delivers through worship services such as these, and I am so thankful to be a part of them.

God bless all those who teach children the faith, and God bless all those who are taught the faith, that they would not depart from it.

Fitting In

I remember a trip we took when I was growing up. I was probably seven or eight years old, and the trip was to King’s Island in Cincinnati. The overall trip included Mammoth Caves and the Air Museum in Dayton, but what really stands out in my mind, is how much I despised King’s Island.

First of all, I loved Cedar Point, so I didn’t understand why we had to drive so far to go to a different amusement park. But much, much worse, was the discovery that I was too big for the little rides… and too little for the big rides. It was a miserable visit, and to this day I am convinced that King’s Island is the amusement park of Satan, designed specifically to torture innocent children. I’m talking, when I picture King’s Island, I picture the amusement park from Pinocchio, where all the boys turn into donkeys and get sold off into slavery. Please, I’m begging you: do not take your children to King’s Island!

In all seriousness, though, that feeling of being too big for the little rides and too little for the big rides is a reality in life more times than just at the amusement park. There are times when you just don’t seem to fit in anywhere.

When you are young, you can’t wait to be bigger so you can do all the fun stuff, like have a job and have money of your own. When you get a little older, you wish you were young again, so you could do all the fun stuff, like not have a job and have parents who pay for everything. One of life’s greatest thrills is when you finally turn 21 and get carded to prove it. One of life’s most crushing blows is when you stop getting carded…

Getting older is an odd thing. We spend half our lives wishing we were older and the rest of our lives wishing we were younger. But no matter what age you are or where you are in life, there will always be people older than you – and people younger than you. It’s important, then, that we respect and look out for those who are younger than us, or who have less advantages. It is likewise important for us to respect and look out for those who are older than us, from whom we might learn. Look out for, teach and mentor those who would benefit from it, but never lord it over them – remember you were younger once, too. Respect and value those who are older than you – why learn everything the hard way, when you can benefit from experience? All of us could stand to ease up, smile more, and treat others with respect – whether we think they deserve it or not.

There are a lot of times in life where you feel like you don’t fit – like you’re too big for the little rides and too little for the big rides. But that should never happen in the church, where we all belong, regardless of our age, our height, our race, our clothes or our hairstyle. We are united in Christ Jesus, covered in His blood, which covers a multitude of sins. You can help make sure the people around you don’t wonder where they belong – or if they belong. Love and respect the people around you, no matter who they are. And for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t take your kids to King’s Island!