|Pastor Taylor with Confirmands Andrew, Erika and Aidan, 2016|
I must confess that being raised in the Presbyterian church, I missed out on some of the more liturgical aspects of worship, one of them being Confirmation. Oh, sure, when I was a teen and I went to a Youth Orientation Class, being run by our youth pastor, I learned about the basics of the Presbyterian denomination, played some trust games with my fellow teens, and in about 4 weeks, I could join the church as a member, rather than just a kid on my parent's church membership.
But today was Confirmation Sunday in our church, which we choose to observe on Reformation Sunday, making it a celebratory day. And even though both of my kids have gone through Confirmation themselves (Colin was Confirmed in 2014, Audrey in 2015), it wasn't until today that the significance of Confirmation made itself evident to me.
I look back at my own faith at this time, and place it in a shadowbox that was encased by my mother's faith, and held in it as well the faith that my two older brothers had. Church was never forced on us, but we were still expected to attend. Then, when my brother Jim went to college and began to stretch his wings, mom felt he was backsliding. I look at my oldest brother, Donald, who has embraced a life of science to the point where he seems to fight the faith he was raised in. So as I watched these three teenagers today, who stood in the pulpit and made their statements of faith, I realized how important this seemingly innocuous Rite is. And it is called a Rite - the Rite of Confirmation.
You see, my brothers and I never had the chance to stand in front of a group of folk and state what we believed. Oh, sure, we may have had through various youth events to give testimonies, but never in such a public forum. And even though I listened to Colin and Audrey's statements of faith, I never saw it any other way than the perspective of being a proud dad.
But today I heard something different: I heard three young people publicly state and profess the reason for their faith. These were carefully crafted messages, and even though none of them were over 3 minutes long, they spoke volumnes of the journey these young people have taken, and more importantly, the foundation that has been built to carry them through their continuing journey of faith. But more importantly, I realized that what they were saying was that their faith was now their own. The claimed it from their parents. They are now stewards of that faith. And to me, that is so exciting!
And I thought of my own kids, whom I told that I WANT them to have their own faith, not mine or anyone else's. It's theirs, and theirs alone. I have told all three of the kids that I want them to continue to go to church and then when they're 18, they can do as they please. Because I want them to get that core truth: that solid foundational belief, so as they travel in their own spiritual journeys, they will have that firm set of beliefs to hold them as they face challenges and other belief systems. And, so today, I think of my kids, and the statements they made, and the hope that they choose to take a journey that will lead them to a place where their faith is strong and truth-filled.
Soli Deo Gloria