Confirmation is a particular time in the lives of BMPC’s eighth-grade youth and in the life of the church; this time offers opportunities for individual and communal transformation. Even during the pandemic, we are wrapping up a year in which 23 Confirmands met regularly on Sunday mornings to deconstruct and consider the four questions they will answer when they publicly profess their faith on May 31, Confirmation Sunday.
- Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?
- Who is my Lord and Savior?
- Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love?
- Will you devote yourself to the church’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers?
Under the umbrella of The Great Commandment, we consider what it is to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. This instruction raises more questions than it answers: Who is God, and who is my neighbor? What does God look like? Who does my neighbor look like? Does my neighbor look like I do? How do I know when God is present? How do I know when my neighbor needs me? Where do I see God moving in my life? Where does my life intersect with my neighbor? How do I know when I sin against God? How do I know when I sin against my neighbor? How do I love myself? We also consider what it means to be the church, and now, what does community look like while we are physically distant from one another?
An exploration of Christian practice, the Disciple Project is the culmination of the Confirmation year, and this year, like everything else in our pandemic-laden world, looks differently than it has in the past. Confirmands met virtually with pastors, Elders, and Confirmation small group leaders to present the spiritual practice they spent 30 days living into. The Disciple Project allows our Confirmands to dive deeply into prayer, forgiveness, discipline, scripture, quiet time, music, gratitude, Star Words, and more.
Why is Christian practice important? It offers an opportunity to experience God’s movement in our lives more fully and more deeply. These practices are not exercises to make something spiritual happen in our lives. Nor does Christian practice demonstrate obedience. Instead, these practices are patterns of communal action that create openings in our lives where God’s grace, mercy, and presence may be revealed. They are places where God shows up.
Most essential for the Confirmands is relationship - with one another, with their small group leaders, with Pastor Leigh, and with their mentors. The mentors have an all-important job of walking with their Confirmand during the year. Mentoring involves regular meetings and conversation, but also can include written communication, prayer for the Confirmand’s journey, and a book, journal or special item to help the Confirmand grow in their faith. Gratitude for the work of a mentor knows no bounds!
As I enter my eighth year of teaching Confirmation, I believe there is nothing we do in the church that is more important than preparing our youth for Confirmation. This is our chance to plant seeds, to show them a church community at its best, and to offer an opportunity to encounter God through Christian practice. We cannot reclaim this time, so it is crucial that we offer opportunities to explore what it means to love God, what happens in our lives when we love our neighbor, and what it means to be church in 2020.
Pastor Leigh and I met with rising eighth graders and their families this month to talk about the upcoming year. We anticipate meeting virtually for the full year, and our curriculum, our Disciple Project, utilizing fabulous mentors and small group leaders to help guide our youth, will not change.