Later this evening, six of our young people will share their statements of faith with the Session of the church and declare their desire to join as members this Sunday. Since January, Cohen, Sydney, Rachelle, Lisette, Eliza, and Ben have attended weekly classes, worked on projects, worshiped, and served as they learned more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Throughout the time they have spent in the Confirmation process, they have been encouraged to think deeply about their faith. We have spent weeks learning about the Bible, God the Father and Creator, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, the Reformed tradition, prayer, spiritual gifts, and service. Yet each week, with each topic, we challenged and encouraged the youth to share their own understanding and interpretation. We wanted these youth to use their own words to explain what these profound topics meant to them, and what difference they make in their own lives.
These six young people are inspirational. As a community of faith, we expect our youth to go through this rigorous process in preparation to become members of our church. We want them to understand our history and heritage, what connects us with other Christians, and what makes us distinct. We ask them to write out a statement of what they believe, and to be prepared to answer questions about their statement. They took the challenge seriously, thought deeply about their faith and commitment, and shared a statement of what they believe. For these reasons, and more, I admire this band of newly minted teenagers. As I reflected on the past four months, I realized that every person in our church should periodically engage in this process.
Each of us who call the church home, who rest in the promise that God is our adoptive parent, and who give our lives to Jesus, would do well to follow the example of our young people. This Sunday morning, they will not just be standing before you saying “Yes” to become a member of this church – they have been on a journey, going through a process of preparation that has yielded fruit. They are saying more than “Yes.” They are saying, “Yes,” and, “This I believe.” They have defined what “This” is. Theirs is a significant investment, and their lives, I pray, are richer for it.
As you witness these six people commit to becoming members of our church, as you pray for them, and as you continue to uphold the vows you made during their baptisms, vows to love them and nurture them in the faith, may you be challenged as I have. Take time to think about what it is you believe and how your beliefs impact your life. I would even go so far as to suggest you take a stab at writing your own statement of faith. It will give you a whole new appreciation for the level of commitment our young people feel as they practice their faith.