June 5 – Seedling Faith

Confirmation 2015 narrow The language of our denomination’s Book or Order is altogether too dry in describing what happens:

The church nurtures those baptized as children and calls them to make public their personal profession of faith and their acceptance of responsibility in the life of the church. When these persons are ready, they shall be examined by the session.  After the session has received them as active members they shall be presented to the congregation during a service of public worship. In that service the church shall confirm them in their baptismal identity. They shall reaffirm the vows taken at Baptism.

Being a Book of Order, it says it exactly as it should. On Sunday we will reenact this marvelous, and marvelously true, story once again.  Students from the 2014-2015 confirmation class will lead us in worship, praying with us and reading the Word to us.  They will share their musical gifts and give us a glimpse of their growing faith.  The church will remember with deep humility promises made fourteen or so years ago, and give thanks for those among us who carried so well the responsibility for nurturing faith. We will begin with faithful parents and then remember Sunday School and VBS teachers, choir leaders and youth group workers, those who remembered names and asked about a child’s life.  We will recall those who quietly prayed day by day. And then, “in that service the church shall confirm them in their baptismal identity.”  They will answer the question of faith – “Who is your Lord and Savior?” – and make the promises of discipleship and membership in the Body; three wonderfully and inexorably connected realities. I love confirmation Sunday. As part of the 36 weeks of Confirmation Class – three Sunday mornings and a Sunday evening a month – each of these young disciples has prepared a statement of faith. You will see them printed on an insert in the morning worship bulletin.  They are not models of theological sophistication, doctrinal accuracy, or even as much Biblical awareness as teachers and students alike would wish.  They reflect seedling faith. Here is a sampler of this seedling faith:

  • To me Jesus is my life, my soul and my everlasting Father. I love Jesus so much – more than anyone in my life today. I sometimes have a hard time understanding and following him.
  • Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I believe he died on the cross for our sins so that we would be forgiven and given eternal and everlasting life with the Lord if we believe and live for him.
  • Through my journey with the Lord, I have experienced times in which I felt there was no light. In those dark times, I was able to turn to him in prayer.
  • A decision must be made for us to ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. Once we do this, Jesus will come into our hearts and salvation will be ours.
  • I believe that even when He feels the furthest away from me, God is always there and will guide me in the right path. I believe that the kingdom of God is everlasting.  I believe that scripture is the word of God.
  • I will always have Christ, and because of his sacrifice on the cross, eternal forgiveness, and prayer.

Seedling faith?  Jesus uses the image of the sower and the seed to teach about  how the gospel becomes real in human hearts.  The Apostle Paul settles a personality conflict in the Corinthian church by reminding his readers that he planted the seed and Apollos watered it.  God used both of them. According to the dry words of the Book of Order, on Sunday we will confirm our students in their baptismal identities. Not so ironically, it is the Book of Common Worship in its funeral service that reminds us so well of that identity. We declare with sure and certain hope that we are sheep of his own fold, lambs of his own flock, sinners of his own redeeming.  Inexorably connected realities.  We deny any one of those realities at our own peril. On Sunday we will celebrate what God is doing, not what we have done. In an age of identity politics, he names us in the way most radical of all: sheep of his own fold, lambs of his own flock, sinners of his own redeeming. The seedlings will continue to need our care and nurture.