By Joel A. Hess –
This past Sunday, our church celebrated the confirmation of a bunch of our kids, my son included. Poor kids. What are we doing? Thirteen and fourteen year olds promising to be upstanding members, givers, and receivers in the Church, to hold to the teachings of the Church according to the Small Catechism, even to suffer death than to fall away from the faith.
In this world where loyalty is a dying art form, it’s great to hear young men and women declaring their loyalty to God and His Church. And of course, each response is rightly accompanied by “with the help of God.”
I then looked at the gleeful congregation proud of their young siblings in the faith. “How many of you have failed at these pledges, like failed miserably?” Slowly most raised their hands. “How many of you feel like a fraud sometimes sitting in those chairs on Sunday?” Some hands still raised.
“Welcome to the church of failures and frauds.” I announced. Fortunately, this church isn’t called Joel’s church, Roger’s church, or even pope so and so’s church. It’s Christ’s Church. The good news is that our success as a Christian has absolutely nothing to do with our loyalty to Jesus or His church and everything to do with Christ’s loyalty to us and His promises.
What are we even doing calling this ceremony confirmation and referring to kids. As if their statements of faith are a confirmation that they are in fact saved? Surely good works and confessing our faith is a fruit of being a saved sinner. But a better confirmation might be the words of Christ spoken in baptism that still ring true despite the sins and suffering of that young women!
Instead of our vows, the confirmation rite should recite Jesus’ vows!
“I will be with you always till the end of the age!”
“I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me will never die”
“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest!”
“Take and eat, take and drink, this is my body, this is my blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins”
“And I will raise you up on the last day!”
And the only words from our confirmands mouth should be Amen.