Last evening, as I watched Catie lead the Confirmands in a dress rehearsal for Confirmation Sunday, I thought about my own confirmation, fifty years ago at my home church of Northfield UMC. Fifty years may be a wide span of time to recall a particular day, but there are a few tidbits from that day that I still remember:
· The Confirmation class of around sixteen had to dress in special white robes used only on Confirmation Sunday; I was not happy about this, as the robe covered the pretty new dress I had sewn for the occasion.
· Before worship the class had to line up in the sanctuary for pictures; I hated having my picture taken, especially on that day when I was wearing that ugly old Confirmation robe!
· The sanctuary was packed that morning; my entire family—including my three grandparents—were there; as usual, Mom and Dad sat in the choir, while my two brothers sat next to my grandparents (‘their pew’ was three rows back, next to the center aisle).
· I was allowed to receive Communion for the first time. How many years had I remained in the pew enviously watching my parents and grandparents go up to the chancel to receive Communion; what joy I experienced that morning as I received Communion for the very first time!
· Although I was happy to be confirmed, my mind and fingers that morning were preoccupied with ‘practicing’ on my lap the Edvard Grieg piece I would be performing at that afternoon’s spring piano recital held in a St. Olaf College recital hall. Thankfully, I made it through the piece without making too many mistakes!
Fifty years ago the congregation of Northfield UMC committed to continue nurturing the faith of a group of young Confirmation Candidates while upholding their own membership vows:
Pastor: Members of the household of God, I commend these persons to your love and care. Do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love.
Congregation: We give thanks for all that God has already given you and we welcome you in Christian love. As members together with you in the body of Christ and in this congregation of the United Methodist Church, we renew our covenant faithfully to participate in the ministries of the Church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
Fast-forward fifty years: from that group of kids confirmed so long ago two of us are now UMC clergy leading congregations just a few miles apart. (My buddy Dave is the pastor at Mazeppa UMC) God does amazing things!
As I recall that important day when I confirmed my own baptism, my prayer is that the heart of each young person confirming their baptism this Sunday at SUMC be receptive to the grace of God in Christ, who has, is, and will continue guiding them on their own, unique faith journey!