This past week-end we celebrated Confirmation at Immanuel International Church. I was reminded of my own confirmation way back in 1975. I even found my photograph from that special day! That's me, front and center!
On Saturday night we have a family night where all the kids share something from their year in confirmation. We also eat delicious cake!It is a great time watching the kids share their deep and careful thoughts about their faith journey and where they are landing today. They always share from their hearts, showing an amazing willingness to be vulnerable about their weaknesses and open about some of their hurts. Our kids come from a huge variety of backgrounds and it's always incredible to see how God has been in work in their young lives through various circumstances and people.
The final thing we do on Saturday is baptize the students who have never been baptized and are now ready to take this significant step. Immanuel church has a great baptismal pool in the large sanctuary so we gather together around the pool and take part in this wonderful moment in these young people's lives. Our colleague, Chris Peterson, does an awesome job as he communicates to the students a bit more of what is happening at this time. He always ends each baptism with these words: "Remember you baptism and the grace that God pours into your life at all times." I love it. It is a reminder that we all need in order to stay the course in our Christian lives.
Sunday is a big day for the students as they don their white robes, stand in front of the congregation, recite the Apostles' Creed and answer questions about their intentions to follow Christ and continue to be a part of His church. Some of the students share their faith journey during the service and others read scripture. At the end of the Rite of Confirmation, the parents join their children up front and lay hands on them as the pastors pray for each student. It is a powerful visual image seeing these kids with their parents standing behind them.It is such a great day for our congregation. All are inspired by the confession of faith that comes forth from these young lives. All get inspired for being a church that helps young people grow and mature in their faith. All are inspired to follow Jesus more closely by listening to the testimony of how the youth are seeking the same.
Confirmation is a great part of being a pastor. Oh, I'm not saying that some times it isn't a huge headache. And of course there are moments when you feel so frustrated that they don't complete assignments or when they don't give their parents necessary information. You wonder if they are learning anything at all or if the entire process is lost on them. I remember how much I screwed around during my confirmation. We must've driven our pastors mad with frustration! And yet, here I am, an ordained pastor seeking to do the same with the young people in our church!
And then Confirmation week-end rolls around and here they come with their insightful comments, looking all grown up, fearlessly proclaiming their faith in God in front of the entire congregation.
What a blessing! What a gift! What a privilege it is to be a pastor on Confirmation week-end!