I realize that most of you won’t make it through this whole blog but hang in there with me. I would like to give you a small glance into one of the most significant privileges in the life of being a minister. Confirmation Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays of the church year. [For all of my non-Methodist friends, in our denomination we baptize children as infants honoring the work the Holy Spirit does in their lives. But as young teenagers we have a process called Confirmation in which we spend weeks teaching, mentoring, challenging and loving on our youth so that they learn about their faith, the church and what it means to profess your faith in Jesus Christ. At the end of the process, youth can choose to be confirmed and join the church. It is the personal choice part of Believer’s Baptism other denominations practice.] Last Sunday we confirmed 33 young people into Christ’s universal Church.
Part of this process involves the pastor laying hands on the heads of each confirmand and confirming them into the faith. They have answered the questions of faith in front of everyone, they have professed their belief as Christians. And I get to offer them a blessing. I grab hold of each one of those precious heads with two hands longing for every ounce of the love of God
that I have in my heart to pour into theirs. I long for them to experience a lifetime of assurance that God truly does see them as a beautiful child of God and will be there for them during the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. I look at their faces and pray that they will always leave time and space in their lives for God when they are faced with so many choices and demands on their time and their hearts. I hope that they will grasp the life-giving gift that having a faith in Jesus Christ will bring them. And finally, that when they grow older and make their way in life beyond Centenary, they will find a church community in which they can experience the joy of meaningful Christian relationships that will live life together with them.
So much happening in the 20 seconds I have them in my hands. I know they will go on to experience many more significant life moments beyond their Confirmation Sunday. They will graduate from high school. Many will go on to college which will be a string of significant moments packed into a 4 (or 5 or 6!) year experience. They will all experience their “first love”. Many will get married. Many will experience the birth of a child. Many will experience the joy of their first promotion. Some will experience the struggle of losing a job. All will experience the loss of a loved one at some point. So many memorable moments. I know this Confirmation moment will get bumped down the memory lane of experiences. But I pray that it hangs in there as a special moment in their faith journey when they truly began to own their place in God’s Kingdom.
Part of my joy during Confirmation Sunday is it reminds me of that moment in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original cartoon version) when they do an “X-ray” on the Grinch’s heart and show it instantly growing three sizes larger. It feels like the Kingdom grows a couple of sizes during Confirmation as these newly professed Christians join the ranks of the church family and take on their vows of upholding the church family with their “prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.” Man, is that a win for Jesus’ Kingdom. Because these young people are awesome! They represent a multitude of gifts, an unlimited amount of love yet to be shared, hours of service offered for the good of others, and a new set of witnesses that powerfully remind others through their actions that they love God and they understand that God loves them.
And I am pretty sure that when the Kingdom grows in that way, God is smiling. And to be just a small part of that, makes my own heart expand a couple of sizes every year. Thanks be to God!
Grace and Peace,
4 thoughts on “When the Kingdom Grows”
I still remember my confirmation 60+ years ago at Central Terrace UMC here in Winston. I do wonder, how many ever go through the confirmation classes and then choose not to commit at that time?
Sometimes there are young people who just aren’t ready and choose not to join. It’s a small percentage but it’s important that they have that option so it’s never forced. Glad yours was memorable!
I did not have the opportunity to have a confirmation class, what a loss for me. While I don’t have children of my own I enjoy the service very much…it is hard not to have tears of joy. Our youth program is one the most important programs our church offers. They are one of the last opportunities we have to prepare youth for the world outside.
I agree, Sue!