Monday, April 11, 2016

An Early Rite of Confirmation

Like many churches, we usually celebrate the rite of Confirmation on the high holy day of Pentecost.  It's a wonderful time to welcome children into the adulthood of believers--and let me in the spirit of honesty, admit that I'm uncomfortable with the way we see Confirmation as the day when children become adults who can participate fully in the Church.  Most churches see that as admission to serve on Church Council or some other equally mundane task.

I have long been uncomfortable asking people to make these vows when they are in high school--or younger.  I remember feeling like a hypocrite for making these vows, because I wasn't sure what I believed, and I certainly didn't intend to spend my grown-up life as a church member.  But I had family who had come long distances for my Confirmation, and I wasn't going to pull out the night before, when the Pastor had individual conferences with us and asked us if we had any doubts.

Did I have any doubts?  Have I ever not had any doubts?  But I was trained to be a good girl, and I said I had no doubts.

Yesterday, I listened to those vows with different ears.  I thought about my own faith journey, and how even during the years that I was not attending church regularly, I still went with my family when I returned home, I still celebrated the Eucharist several times a year, and I still lived among God's faithful people.  I have spent my whole life striving/hoping for peace and justice, even when I had different sorts of faith communities to support that.

Today, on the third Sunday of Easter, as we listened to the stories of Jesus making one of his post-resurrection appearances, I thought of the reason why we aren't waiting 40 days until Pentecost.  The woman who has faithfully taught our confirmands for decades has just received a dreadful medical diagnosis.  By having Confirmation today, she could participate.

The post-resurrection stories seem particularly appropriate for this year's Confirmation.  I need to be reminded of the Easter promise that death does not have the final answer, the final decision.  I need to be reminded of the fact that the earth commits to resurrection every day--and so does God.

When we were getting married, during one of our required pre-marital counseling sessions, our pastor told us that everyone in the congregation would be evaluating their own relationships during a marriage ceremony.  I'm betting that the same is true for Confirmations and Baptisms--at least, if we're paying attention.

Yesterday, I was paying attention.  The medical crises of so many in circles that surround me have hammered home the message:  death may not have the final answer, but it may be coming sooner than anticipated.  I want to be more fully present in my life, so that when it's time, I'm O.K. with that transition.

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