This past Sunday, the confirmands in my home parish shared their “faith statements” to parents, mentors, and Vestry members. With twenty-three confirmands (all about to graduate from 8th grade), it was an interesting “listening session” to hear how those who have spent a year in preparing for confirmation shared what they believed – and what they did not believe. All appropriate for this developmentally “searching” phase of adolescent life. Lots of “I’m not sure of all this Bible stuff.” “I feel closest to God when …” “My favorite experience has been …” “Even though I am still questioning …”
Then this piece came across my screen this week. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts and known as the creator of Lent Madness, posed a question on Twitter that one of his parish high school confirmands asked him: What difference does it all make?
He shared the response on his blog, Clergy Confidential. Here’s a sampling, sans the responder’s handle:
It means choosing hope over despair, which I believe is a more challenging road. The resurrection means hate, war and hunger do not have the final word in our world; there is an outrageous hope calling us forward.
I don’t need to be afraid of anything: Not death or being wrong or embarrassing myself or anyone’s opinion. I trust that God is working out the details and my job is to choose love every day. I can’t live this way 100%, but God understands when I miss the mark and loves me anyway.
It reminds me that no matter how dark things get or how badly I f*ck up, there is always a chance for rebirth and mercy and new efforts. Jesus rising from the dead basically allows me to raise my head up every day and keep trying, trusting that God is not done with me.
There’s always hope. No matter how bad it gets, God will come through for you.
I wonder if we ask those who are preparing to be confirmed this very question: What difference does it make that you want confirm your faith? instead of an assignment to write a faith statement. Not that writing a faith statement is a bad thing – I think we should ask adults (especially parents, and mentors) to write one and share it with their child/mentee at the beginning of any confirmation program. Hopefully our young people know that they are already FULL members of the Church by virtue of their baptism. (Yes, with the age of sixteen or twenty-one other “perks” are achieved due to legal reasons.) But confirmation is a reaffirmation of baptism, taking responsibility and ownership for promises made on behalf of us at a previous time, most likely in infancy (at least in the Episcopal Church).
In light of the growing secularism surrounding us and living in a post-Christian society, we need to remind our young people that this is more than saying “yes” to the Christian community that surrounds us in our home and congregation. It is saying “yes” to Jesus.
How would you answer the question: What difference does it all make?