“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
In one week, on October 25, eight young people of our congregation will make an Affirmation of Faith in Sunday worship. This is a milestone event, marking a moment in their lives after two years of instruction when they will give expression to “hope that is in them.” Not just the received-and-taken-for-granted faith of their families or congregation, they are now ready to speak for themselves and make their own commitments.
As part of this service I have asked each student to talk about their faith journey, and tell their personal faith story. In some traditions this would be called giving a testimony, a practice with a long and respected history. It’s about publically owning one’s experience and convictions in a safe and supportive community. It’s about describing something very personal, one’s relationship with God, self, and others. Therefore these expressions are given and received in love, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who cheer them on in their race.
I have encouraged our young people to be creative with their Faith Expressions, and choose a method that best fits their own personality and interests. It could be a speech or written statement, a work of art, a performance of a piece of music, a sculpture or collage, a story from their lives, a reflection on a Bible passage, or anything else that would communicate to others what their relationship with God means to them. Our young people are full of excitement and celebration of God in their lives.
We understand that they are giving expression to something that is still in process. Growth and change in faith is a lifelong experience. Everyone who is spiritually healthy has questions and doubts; it’s not good to think you have everything all figured out. A Faith Expression is a snapshot in time of what a person’s faith means to them right now. It will change, and that’s ok.
I look forward to hearing from our young people on October 25. I always look forward, too, to pastoral conversations with any of our members in which we talk about our faith journeys. Confirmation Sunday can be a wonderful time for all of us to reflect on our own stories and how God has been alive to us through our lives.
Photo by Kid Circus on Unsplash