E-pistle September 4

Finding the Right Answers
This past Wednesday evening our newest group of confirmation kids gathered for food (pizza made by the students), fellowship and information on this year’s class journey.  Chet Marshall, Carol Casten and Joe Franzi are returning on September 13 as the Sunday morning teaching team and Barb Chase and I will be with the kids for their first-Sunday-evening-of-the-month classes beginning in October.
One of our icebreaker activities had us listing favorite TV shows, sports teams, academic subjects and the like and then the others tried to guess our identity based on our answers.  A good exercise; it works every time.  But then Carol had us focus in on some slightly more serious things, just some surface get-to-know-you questions about faith and church. 
Our new confirmation students are ready for something deeper than simple get-to-know-you answers.
As I often am when I have the privilege of spending time with our young people, I was struck by the complexity of the world in which they live.  Especially regarding faith.  Oh, there were the usual comments about sophomoric science teachers intimidating kids of faith, but the students were more concerned about their peers’ rejection of God and the “faith free zone” that not just the school campus, but too many friendships and relationships have become.  “I don’t understand why being a Christian is so unpopular,” one of the students said. 
For the next nine months our students will be learning the content of the Bible, our faith tradition and God’s claim on their lives.  But more than that, they will be seeking answers to their own questions.  And that’s where it becomes tricky for the teachers.  We need to allow the kids to find answers through their own discovery process, but we need to help guide them to the righteous paths that lead to answers that will satisfy their longing hearts.
One of the things we will do is provide some facts not always mentioned in the classroom. For instance we will tell them that it is true that many scientists reject faith, but also that one in three scientists questioned in the important Pew Survey on Religion in America confesses a faith in God, and the number includes some of the leading scientists in the world. Students have a right to know what’s true, that is, what is factually true. 
There is a deeper Truth than the factual truth, however, and only those who know that Truth finally discover answers that will last and hold. It’s easy to string together Bible passages that answer tough questions.  Why is being a Christian so unpopular?  Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  He said, “I am the truth.  He said that we are blessed when we are reviled and persecuted because we know him – and like the prophets we shall be so reviled and persecuted.” Frankly, the world will hate us, because it hates Jesus, who is light, and people love darkness rather than light. 
It’s taken me a long time to understand that being a Christian isn’t going to make me popular.  I still struggle with that truth (it’s a fact, and it is part of knowing the Truth); I want desperately to be liked.  Most young high school students want to be liked more than anything else in all the world. 
Pray for our confirmation students as they begin a journey of discovery that they might find not just answers, but Truth. 
Pray for our confirmation teachers.  Their job is not to provide answers to every question so much as it is to introduce the students to the one who is God’s great answer, the one in whom all the promises of God find their Yes!