I’m Confirming You Even If You Don’t Want Me To

It has regularly happened in one of the churches I’ve served: a student completing Confirmation chooses not to make a profession of faith and so become an Active Member of the church. I’ve gone from stressing about this to not caring at all to caring enough about it to orchestrate the Confirmation so that 1) nobody is singled out for the decision they’re not making and 2) the congregation honors the decisions that are being made.

I’ve been telling kids all year that “getting confirmed” is not really a thing you do in a Presbyterian church, at least not in the same way as you would in a Catholic one. You make a profession of faith. That “confirms” the covenant God made with you in your baptism. But who is the subject of that verb? God? The church? The confirmand?

The trick hiding up my sleeve is that they’re all getting confirmed on Sunday. All of them, whether or not they have been received into Active Membership by the session in the previous hour, will come forward, kneel, and hear their name uttered in this prayer: “Defend, O Lord, your servant ___________ with your heavenly grace, that s/he may continue yours forever and daily increase in your Holy Spirit until s/he comes to your eternal kingdom.”

Only after that will we affirm our faith together as a congregation and hear the professions of those who are joining (baptizing one of them).

My conviction here is that the church is confirming something important for all of these young people whom it has nurtured since their baptisms. The church is confirming that all of them are a valuable part of the community.

I’m confirming something too. You don’t get, at 14 years of age, to tell the church to stop caring about you and praying for you. Well, you do. But we don’t have to listen.

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