Encounters with God happen, and they are known by their liberating effects. How can confirmation class support such encounters?
When I was baptized at 12, I refused what Baptists call “the right hand of fellowship.” I wanted the water but not the fellowship.
Without the rudder of memory, my father seemed adrift in a tiny boat on a wild, infinite sea, yet unconcerned with finding a way back to shore.
Our granddaughter's uncertainty about confirmation was typical and appropriate. After eight months of class, though, she told me she had decided to declare her faith.
On Sundays, my mother stayed home and read the paper. Yet she insisted that we kids go to church.
Perhaps instead of asking confirmands to confirm the vows made at their baptisms, members should confirm the vows they made to these teens at their baptisms—confirming the validity of those vows and the congregation’s love and commitment to them, no matter what the teens may believe at the moment or where life may take them. The candidates would be asked to receive the love of the congregation and a recommitment of what the congregation offered them at their baptisms. Even if the teens leave the church, as many will, those commitments would be like a light kept in the window until they are ready to return home.
When Erik confessed his faith on the festival of Pentecost, the entire family of believers watched and strained to hear his confession. His chubby fingers were surprisingly dexterous as he signed the words, and he also spoke, as if what he was signing was bursting through the silence of his deafness. This is what he said on the day of his confirmation: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not die but have life forever.”