At their confirmation retreat a couple of weeks ago, our 10th graders had the opportunity to ask faith questions about things they were still wondering about. We discussed as many as we could, but I said that I would try and answer the questions that remained on my blog over the next few weeks. Here are a few more questions and my thoughts:
Q: Is it true that when you are hurt or lose your faith, that God is currently testing it with the devil?
A: I don’t believe that God tests us in this way. God created us. God knows us. In fact, in the scriptures, Jesus is talking about how deeply God knows us. He talks about the value of sparrows, and then he says: “But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)
So if God knows us this well, God doesn’t need to test us.
I think that when we are hurt, or when we lose our faith, it’s not because of God, or because of the devil. I think it’s because we live in a sinful, broken world. Stuff happens that is outside of God’s hopes for our world and our lives As people of faith, we need to figure out how to navigate it when life goes in an unexpected direction.
Things happen, and there are times when our faith is strong, and there are times when our faith feels depleted. We’ve all experienced this. It’s important for us to recognize this, and to be aware of where we’re “at” in our relationship with God.
And through it all, though there are times when may feel like our questions and doubts are greater than our faith, we need to remember that God’s faith in us…God’s love for us…God’s care for us…never wanes. We are always loved by God, and that love is a constant. That is the promise that I cling to, even when days are difficult and God feels far away. I have to remember that God never moves away…it is I who moves closer and farther from God.
Q: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
A: Ok, let’s just settle this now, once and for all. It was the egg.
Q: Why do we have to be confirmed?
A: You don’t.
Confirmation is not a sacrament, or a requirement for church membership or for faith. And nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say, “Everyone needs to go through confirmation.” Confirmation is an optional program.
Having said that, there are a few reasons why I think going through confirmation is important and even helpful:
- Confirmation is your way of affirming, and owning, the promises that your parents made for you when you were baptized. It’s your way of saying, “Thanks, Mom and Dad, for getting me this far. Now, these promises that you made for me are mine, and I will live them out myself.”
- The actual confirmation service is an important milestone, and marker in your life. It celebrates your “owning” these promises and it celebrates your maturing in your life and faith. And milestones and celebrations are important.
- Confirmation is a really good, really focused way of intentionally growing in your faith. God wants our faith to deepen. The problem is, left to ourselves, we probably lose energy. But if we make a commitment to a program like confirmation, it becomes much more achievable.
- For many families, confirmation is a tradition and a family celebration. While you don’t get confirmed “for someone else,” it is still important to recognize that family traditions and rituals are an important way of passing on faith and celebrating together.
- Confirmation will stretch you. There are questions asked, and things we wonder, which, if we take it at least sort-of seriously, will help us to grow into the people God created us to be.
- Confirmation is about community. Hopefully you’ve made good friends; friends who will help support you throughout your life.
So is confirmation something you have to do? No. At least not from the church’s perspective (I can’t speak for your parents). No, confirmation is something we get to do.
Q: What can I get involved in?
A: A great question. The answer is, “almost anything you can dream about.”
There’s lots of stuff at Trinity that you can be a part of. And, to be really honest, we need you. The church isn’t the pastors, or the staff. The church is the people of God called to work together on God’s mission of love in the world. That’s you. You’re called to do this.
My question to you would be: What do you love to do? What is your passion? What do you care about? The welfare of children? The environment? Technology and the world? Learning stuff? Leading?
I’d encourage you to think about your gifts and let us help you match those up with the needs in the church. One way to do this is to take the “Things I Like to do” survey. If you fill that out, and list what you love to do, you will get called when there is a need and you’ll be given opportunities to serve.
At the same time, we really want our people to remember that service to God doesn’t just happen at church. There are a zillion places in Owatonna to volunteer and serve. From our partner organizations like Hospitality House, Clothesline, the Food Shelf, Rachel’s Light, Transitional Housing, the list goes on and on and on. And Trinity people are volunteering at these places all of the time. You can do that and serve, and by doing so you’ll be serving God and serving the church.
If you’re not sure where to go, contact me. We’ll get you connected. I promise.
Thank you, sophomores! Great questions. I’ll post more of them next week!