Sun, May 06, 2018

Faith Statements

by Doug Gunkelman

As parents, grandparents, baptismal sponsors, Sunday School teachers, and pastor, we have joined together to help prepare our confirmands for this day when they affirm their baptisms in the Rite of Confirmation.

In our gospel text, Jesus is with his disciples in a Jerusalem upper room where they have shared his last supper before his crucifixion the next day. Jesus has baptized them, instructed them, washed their feet, and now fills them with his presence in the bread and wine.

Jesus’ instructions are simple: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”.

We take a few moments to listen to and to learn from our confirmand’s faith statements as they describe how God has loved them and how they have learned to love others. A few short excerpts . . .

Annabelle Oas

“Faith can move mountains” Matthew 17:20

I picked this bible verse because I think it is very true. The reason I think that it is very true is because whenever I feel stressed or upset about things in my life whether it be school, friends, family etc., I always think about my faith. I think about when I was younger and how I would get tucked in followed with prayers and always get a warm feeling knowing someone very close to me was listening to me and answering my prayers. Whenever I pray either alone, at church or with family, I get a sense of renewal and cleansing no matter what we might be praying about. I truly believe faith is very valuable and I can do anything I put my mind to through faith.

As far as believing in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, I feel I believe a lot stronger than I used too. When I was younger me and my family attended Grace Church. I would always be excited to go to church but definitely for the wrong reason, the food! I would always be excited to eat the fresh, warm cinnamon rolls I would get each Sunday in the church Cafe. Besides the food, I'd be looking forward to the class in the basement of the church where I would sing songs and watch videos about well-known stories in the Bible like Noah's Ark. After about 2 years of going to Grace, I woke up at about 9am like usual excited to get my weekly cinnamon roll at church that day. I started to get ready for church only to find out we were -trying something new- which was the Church up the street as we called it, Divinity Lutheran Church. I was very upset. I wasn't going to get my cinnamon roll. But I found I actually love Divinity. After a few weeks I found out they had food too! But that wasn't the reason I liked it.

Bella Suchan

“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with it's mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me." Psalm 131, verse 2

I believe this verse shows the change and the improvement of someone's being, to let anxiety and sadness drain away from the true soul, allowing a better, more clear perspective on day-to-day activities and actions. However, there are people out in the world who haven't gone through this change yet, but I believe I may hopefully go through this transition. Or luckily be going through change right now without knowing.

I mostly remember one of my sermon notes, from a sermon called 'A Covenant Relationship'. Why? To be honest, ever since was little I had no clue on what a covenant was. At least that obvious problem is solved and I will keep the definition always in mind, mainly because eventually I'll hopefully will make a marriage covenant with a future romantic interest. Big emphasis on hopefully. Now, since I actually know for sure what a covenant is, I can be more assured and strengthened by now clearly knowing our covenant we have made and keep with God

My faith before Sunday school was drastically different than my current faith now. Before I began I feared church and felt extremely guilty if anyone brought religion into the conversation. I prayed extremely rarely, and had very little trust in God. I would even fear the church thinking that it would 'brainwash' you. Now that I have been going to Sunday school, my faith has changed greatly. I no longer fear God and appreciate all the things he has done and recognize the reasons behind them. I now gladly express happy memories I've had in Sunday school and Confirmation Activities I've done with others.

I've begun to pray more and realize my sins are forgiven already, not piled up to determine my judgment at the end of my life. Its very shocking to realize at this point in time I've changed so much in faith through Sunday school.

Samantha Chilia

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4

This verse means to me that whenever something bad happens to me that God will protect me, and be with me. Whenever I feel like no one’s there for me I know that God is. He will cover me with his wings, and will act as a shield to the bad things.

I believe that God has made us to all get along, and to have no wars, nobody being racist, no one getting bullied, and no one being labeled. I don’t think he pictured a man wanting to build a wall to separate the Mexicans and the Americans. I don’t think that he pictured there being “popular” people, and “nerds”, and “jocks”. I don’t think he pictured us to be perfect, but definitely not being mean to each other all the time.

I remember going to Camp Mowana, and one of my favorite things was our silent time. We got to do whatever we wanted. We could read our Bible, write notes, look around, or just listen to nature. I liked it because it was really relaxing, and very quiet. When I look up I saw trees, blue skies, and birds chirping.

One of my personal stories is when my mom had cancer. She had it when I was in 1st grade. At the time, I didn’t really know what cancer was, but I knew she was sick. I think it was better for me not to know what cancer was, or that cancer could kill you, because I think I would have been scared. I remember people bringing us dinner a couple times a week.

Sometimes they would bring stuff only for my brothers and me. After all her cancer was gone, she told me that she could’ve died, but she kept fighting for us. So, I did get really scared of leaving my mom. I always wanted to make sure when I woke up, she was there. I slowly got over it, but I still am scared to leave my mom. If she’s going to be gone for awhile, I’ll text all the time, and call her when I wake up and before I go to bed. This changed my faith, because I would always pray when she was sick, so I feel like I became closer to God.

I knew God was taking care of her. And now, I give dinner to people who are sick because I was happy that people gave it to our family.

My faith helps me by knowing that everything is going to be okay no matter how bad something turns out.

Samantha Ann Roff

My Bible verse is John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

My Bible verse paints a good image in my head. A picture that I drew before I choose this Bible verse. I feel that I am the light. The light is in me. The trinity put it there. The darkness is sin. The devil. The darkness, no matter how hard it tries, will not overcome me. For I am with the trinity. I am strong.

My confirmation class had allowed me to open up about many things in my life. My struggles. My pain. My faith above all. Mrs. Schon has opened me up the most. It feels like we are the only people in the room. I feel like it is a sanctuary when I am with her.

My faith helps me when I need it. It guides me in the right direction. Day in and day out. I am here today because I believe in a better tomorrow. My faith helped me realize that.

My relationship with my mom is never ending. God will always love me. Like my mom does to me. I will always love him. He is like the father I never had.

Sure, we have been through bumps, hill, mountains, potholes, valleys, and sinkholes. We are still as connected as ever, maybe even more. She is a part of me and I like to think that I am a part of her. I live on this earth, right now, because of her. I love you mom to eternity.

James Scanlon

2 Chronicles 15:7 "but as for you, be strong, and don't give up for you will be rewarded. I picked this verse because it is like my everyday life. I have to be strong when people picked on me and I never give up in anything and I get rewarded for it like when I'm in soccer and I try really hard a score a goal, in basketball when I try my best I get a 3 or a 2, in school when 1 study really hard I get a good grade. In baseball when I try I get a hit.

I remember one time in Sunday school class that we were talking about that 1 in 4 people go to bed hungry and that shocked me so much because that is horrible that so many people go to bed hungry. I realized that I was so lucky that it was not me.

What I believe about God is that he protects us and keeps us safe. He forgives us when we do wrong. We pray to him when we need him the most.

My faith has gotten better and better each and every year because I came to Divinity Lutheran and began going to Sunday school. When it was my first year of Sunday school I did not know anything at all, not a single thing, but thanks to Divinity Lutheran I have learned so much about God, Jesus, and the holy bible. I just want to thank all the teachers that have helped me to get to the point that I am at right now.

Aidan Florio

To start out my faith statement I will begin by saying my favorite bible verse which is from John: 3:17 "God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." This verse from the bible really sticks out to me because it tells you what God's plan was to help unite and save the world.

It also says to me that that he sent Jesus to help us, love us, and teach us about our faith. The last thing it really says or reminds me that God sent his son to help and that he sacrificed himself for us.

Each year my faith grows stronger in God, and it also grows stronger every time I go to confirmation class and Sunday school. When I first started Sunday school we almost never went to church services but, now we go to them every week and since I have been going, I have been growing my faith every time I went to church, Sunday School, and Confirmation class.

The sermons every Sunday that I hear and write about are small guidelines on how you can improve your faith everyday.

My years of class have really helped me through times that were bad or just not good in general. It helped me learn about God and how much he really loves us, and it really taught me what my faith is all about. Thank you to all of my teachers, fellow classmates, and parents for getting me through confirmation class!

Angel Perez

"Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in who there is no help" - Psalm 146:3

To me this means and tells me to trust God, my love for God and my faith more than anything else. When you really think about it, God is the only one that is always there for you when you need someone for help or just to talk. When I really need help deciding something or with a problem I have, I go to God because he is always there for me when I need him every time.

Sunday School and going to church every Sunday has really helped my faith in many ways. It has made it much stronger and helps me connect to God.

Learning about the Bible and all the stories in the Bible really help me understand how much God can help me and the amazing and beautiful things he can do with his power. Confirmation class this year and last year was very important to my faith. It helped me understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us and how lucky we are to have a God that loves us so much. Learning about the 10 Commandments helped me understand the things we should be doing in order to please God. Studying the Apostles Creed also helped me really understand what we believe in, and I believe it is a very important statement people should take time to look into and try and understand.

Without my parents, Sunday School teachers, and Pastor Doug I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without any of them I wouldn’t have the strong faith I have today or have made the choices I did to get to today. They’ve always helped me out and always tried to get me to be good. I’ve always tried to do everything as perfect as I could, but nobody is perfect except God. In the time I’ve been in confirmation class, all of us have gotten close and it feels like a second family and a safe space where I won’t be judged. Church, Sunday School, and all the Wednesday classes have helped me out so much, and I plan to use what I’ve learned in them to continue my work in the church and work on getting a stronger faith.

Brendan McDonnell

My Bible verse is from Romans 12 verse 2. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect. What this means to me is you do not have to think as everyone else to fit in. In fact there is no person the same.

What I feel about God is love and love is one of the greatest things you can have in this world. Some times I may doubt him. I will still love him and he will be every one’s God.

Last year I was having a hard time in school. I felt unmotivated to do school work. But then I got motivated to do my work and the year went by like nothing.

My faith helps me get up in the morning which is not fun at all.

Jennifer Marvin

My favorite Bible verse is "What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" (Romans 8:31). This verse means something to me because I think of all the people in the world who don't share God's love and I feel so lucky that I have God on my side. When I think of this verse I picture myself standing behind God being protected by all the evil in the world. Nobody can go against me as long as God is on my side.

Through my confirmation classes I've learned a lot. I've learned about followers of God, people who have made a difference in the biblical times, and I've learned stories that non-believers would never understand. My Confirmation journey started with stories from the Old Testament like Moses' story, Ruth's accomplishments, Abraham, Sarah, and their generations of children.

I was also introduced to the "asap" closet in 7th grade, which stood for “always say a prayer”. We would hang our prayers in the closet and pray for each other every Sunday and Wednesday.

During my 8th grade year is when things started to get interesting. My class read the catechism with Pastor Doug and we learned about the sacraments. I learned that Baptism brings us forgiveness of sins and redeems us from death and the devil. In the Lord's Supper (Communion) we drink wine and eat bread which became the blood and body of Jesus.

I've done a bunch of fun things with my Confirmation class/the Church, some I wish my non-Christian friends could experience. For example, Camp Mowana. When I went to camp in 7th grade, I had a blast! I met some strong Christians that were just wonderful people. I learned new praying techniques, new songs, new ways to worship, and fun games to play with Church friends. Luckily there were no major injuries to me or any others that camped there.

After every meal, we learned a new singing prayer, and let me just say, some of them were kind of weird. Two counselors would go up and tell us the words and we would begin to sing. Over the week we would do activities that would strengthen our bond with God and each other. One game we played was more of a trust exercise, we would get blindfolded and someone would lead us to where we needed to go without leading us off a hill. It was kind of hard to trust someone that much.

Other activities I've done with the Church are Redeemer Crisis center. The whole Confirmation class would carpool down to the center, and right away we would be told something to do. First, everybody would carry gifts out of the trucks and put them in the center. which would be given to kids without presents. Then we would all split up. Some of us would pack bags full of food, some would carry boxes, and some would serve the meal.

My love for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit has only grown. I can’t wait to continue on my church journey after my confirmation.