I do, by the grace of God.
Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?
I do, by the grace of God.
With these words, the Church asks and the youthful confirmand makes the most solemn promises anyone can make. Perhaps it is foolish of us to presume that a youth between 10 and 14 would be in a position to make such bold statement in front of all those in the pews. If that is true, then it is even more presumptuous for us to ask them to make such a pledge before God. Yet, that is exactly what we do. And it is what we have done for about as long as there has been the Rite of Confirmation.
My point is not to debate the wisdom of asking youth to make such promises but to ask if we as adults have offered to our youth a good example of what it means to value the Kingdom of God above all things and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from this Kingdom and faith.
When we make worship optional and do not lead our families by example in being in the Lord's House on the Lord's Day, we teach our children that other things can come ahead of faith and its practice. When we leave our Bibles to gather dust and tuck our children in without praying with them, we teach our children that other things can come ahead of faith and its practice. When we mirror the values of the world around us instead of the values of the Kingdom, we teach our children that other things can come ahead of faith and its practice. When we search in our wallets for the smaller bill to place in the offering plate or skip the tithes and offerings altogether, we teach our children that other things can come ahead of faith and its practice. When we allow ourselves to be captive to fear under the threat of a pandemic, we teach our children that other things can come ahead of faith and its practice.
For too long we have stood on the sidelines while puffing out our chests while our children follow their ancestors in making saying these bold words. But this was not a photo op nor was it merely a symbolic act. This was and is a solemn and vow and promise. If we ask our youth to make these pledges, the least we can do is to support and encourage them by keeping the promises ourselves. If no one believes that these promises are worth taking seriously, why do we bother with them at all?
We have made our way almost through a pandemic in which we operated more on fear than faith. Our willingness to close the doors to the churches and to rush to replace our in person meeting with online substitutes only reinforced to our children and to those outside the faith that this faith is not worth risking your personal safety or your life for. And that, my friends, is the exact opposite of what those Confirmation promises say.