Saturday, March 31, 2012

Re:Viewing Confirmation

Confirmation Sunday
If you did not grow up in the church (or maybe even if you did), “Confirmation” may seem like a strange name for a youth program. Who is doing the confirming when we talk about confirmation? Does God send down a sacred confirmation email saying, “Yup, this person has been baptized by water and the spirit.”? Or are we doing the confirming? Are we holding confirmation hearings where we vet our students to confirm that they are “ready” to join the church? Or are the students confirming that they have read the fine print and looked into their hearts, and they are ready to sign on the dotted line and “become a member”? Ideally, in confirmation we are all doing the confirming together. We support each confirmand (student in confirmation) in learning more about our faith tradition, reflecting on how God has been at work in his or her life, and deciding if she or he is ready to make a faith commitment.

If you went through Confirmation as a youth, what comes to mind about that process? I’ll admit, I hear plenty of people talk about how boring it was. And I’ll never forget the first day of confirmation class when I had to explain to a student that we were not talking about conforming them. Of course I also remember how empowering it was to me as a student, being asked to make my own decision and my own commitment to God and to the church. I know that many people share that experience. (And I’m actually really glad they made me memorize the Apostle’s Creed).

And if you’ve taught confirmation, you’re probably remembering the wonderful ways that you experienced God through and with youth… and you may also vaguely remember that feeling of “oh my gosh how am I supposed to fit all of this information into few enough classes that I can get all of the kids to come and also include some worship and service and missions and teach about the sacraments and grace and the trinity and have everyone sit still long enough and understand it all and not be too bored???” Or was that just me? When I was teaching confirmation it was sometimes challenging for me to let go of the logistics and content and really be present with my students and with God.

But I’ll confess that I love teaching confirmation. It is a chance for us to show young people the best of what God and the Church have to offer them. It is a season when we encourage our students to reflect on their own experiences of God, and we give them the tools to discern how God is inviting them to live out their faith. That’s why I am so excited to invite small confirmation classes to participate in the Re:View Confirmation Retreat in March. I know all of the prayer and planning that go into a confirmation process, and how it can be especially challenging for smaller churches. I hope that confirmation leaders will be blessed by the chance to leave the logistics to us so that they can spend the weekend focused on their confirmands. Together we will re:view some of the ways that God is at work in the world. We’re going to learn, climb, share, star-gaze, pray, hayride, shoot arrows, worship, listen, and lots more. And there will be Peeps Smores. Let me know if you’re interested in joining us!

This blog was originally published on the Pecometh Blog.  Next year's Re:View Confirmation Retreat is scheduled for March 8-10, 2013.  


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