Today was Confirmation Sunday at our church. It was such an honor to hear the brief description each student shared about what confirmation means to him or her, along with a meaningful verse. Each one was a benediction and a prayer for the congregation, at once affirming their place in the community and reinforcing the responsibility the congregation has to continue the care of their formation.
As I considered the role Howie plays in their spiritual development and the privilege I have to be involved with him in it to some degree, I reflect on those who are implicated in my early spiritual formation, and those who continue in that provision.
The church in which I spent the majority of my growing up years did not have a formal Confirmation program. As it happens, though, when I was in junior high a few of the leaders thought it might be a good idea to launch a pilot program. Though my parents taught and encouraged bible literacy and our church did implement a strong Sunday school program, the new confirmation class reinforced what I learned and affirmed that God was already speaking into my life about who I am as God’s own.
I think of people like Roger Castle, who confirmed the knowledge already present, and Lorraine Thulson who spiritually nurtured so many of us from earliest years. My college mentor, Pentor, who taught me how to lead and saw me for who I am. After China, Nancy Haldane supported a deeper faith in the Spirit’s power; and Toddy Holeman encouraged a pastoral impulse along with the counseling degree in seminary. There are many who may not even know how significant a blessing or a comment was on my formation—I think of Linda Adams and Delia Nüesch-Olver—and those who walked with me through especially difficult times—Pam Braman and Kathy Callahan-Howell, just to name a few.
One thing that continues to ring true is that we are always giving and receiving form. When I encounter you, I encounter God’s image—an aspect of God’s character that is uniquely expressed in you. When you connect with me, you have the same opportunity to know God afresh. Of course, if I put on a mask out of fear or insecurity, that light is not quite as visible. But I trust that scripture speaks the truth that even darkness is light for God.
So, my prayer for these young confirmands is that each one continues to grow in the knowledge of who he or she is as image-bearers of the Creator of all things! And, that the community of Christ not loose sight of its inimitable role in supporting these beautiful human beings.