This Sunday, May 5, we will confirm seven of our youth, culminating not just a two-year process of learning some Luther and Small Catechism and Bible and church and faith and more, but of a life-shaping journey since they were baptized. Many Lutherans, and other mainline faith traditions, call this an Affirmation of Baptism. Most of us born into this part of organized religion practice, are not fully aware of all that’s going on when water is poured over our head, and other family and friends promise to read Scripture to us and teach us some creeds and prayers and take us to a grace-filled Meal, not to mention that little candle being lit, almost igniting infant-us into letting our own little light shine to glorify this Other-Worldly Being that we don’t know about quite yet. Confirmation is meant to be a bit of a holy nudge into taking more personal and spiritual ownership on all the above.

Granted, there can be some risk with that. After all, there’s that joke about trying to get rid of bats from flying around the church buildings: that all you have to do is teach them Confirmation, and they’ll be gone forever. Humorous, perhaps a bit extreme in some cases, but we also know plenty of personal evidence to back it up. Encouraging youth, or any age child of God, to take personal ownership of their respective wandering with God, can mean that they more fully realize all this free will that God allows to operate in this world, and that can very well carry over into lack of worship attendance and falling away from organized religion practice entirely.

Yes, there’s risk with this whole Confirmation thing. It’s no longer standard operating procedure that youth come to every Sunday school class, junior choir rehearsal, Confirmation Lutheran-immersion, youth group activity, and maybe after a brief stint at college or trade school or whatever adulting-wandering, return back to join every committee and choir and church council and any sort of volunteering whatsoever, not to mention having their wedding and child baptism and Confirmation and everything else in the same church building for an entire lifetime. And, well…that’s okay. God has the capacity go anywhere, after all, and is, in fact, everywhere.

Yes, there’s risk with this whole Confirmation thing, but hopefully the whole love and grace and hope emphases with our Lutheran infatuation sticks with them just enough to go with them wherever they may go, including to baseball fields and band concert halls and college dorm rooms and workstations and whatever else. And no matter what happens, the church is meant to be the place and people to always welcome them back into the midst of fully-fledged practicing of love and grace and hope, no matter where the wandering leads them after Confirmation Sunday, and no matter how long it may last.

Yes, there’s tremendous risk with this God allowing such free will to roam in this world that God still thoroughly adores. But love tends to be much more beautiful when it isn’t coerced or forced. Ministry in whatever form tends to be much more spiritually-nourishing and world-affecting when it isn’t done out of guilt or shame or intimidation. God tends to be much more captivating and awe-inspiring when we church leaders move away from proclaiming the Divine as the Mighty and Terrifying sort.

Yes, there’s risk when it almost seems as if the church is too willy-nilly with just letting our youth do as they please with taking more ownership of their faith journey. But it’s the most beautiful risk to be taken for them, because we know God is never going to leave them, no matter how the wandering goes from May 5, 2024, on. If they keep on coming back, thanks be to God! But if they don’t, we know God will insist on always finding a just-as-holy-gospel of a way for their blessed reassurance of love and grace and hope. Amen (so let it be)!

In Christ,
Pastor Brad