Pr. Janet Lepp, St. John’s, Mendota
Affirmation of Baptism
The young people in their white robes stand in front of the congregation. “You have made public profession of your faith,” the Pastor announces, and then asks them, “Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism?” Then the five baptismal promises are spoken. These reflect what it means to live the Christian life of discipleship. Included is the intention to serve all people, following the example of Jesus.
Then one by one, each Confirmand responds, “I do, and I ask God to help and guide me.”
The pastor turns to face the congregation. “People of God, do you promise to support these sisters and brothers and pray for them in their life in Christ?” If so, please respond, “We do, and we ask God to help and guide us.”
So many promises are being made. The young people are making promises as an Affirmation of their Faith. The congregation is making promises of support to these young people as they continue their faith journey. Even God’s promises are heard, offering repentance and forgiveness, new life and salvation through Jesus Christ. Finally a prayer is said, asking for the guidance of God’s living and Holy Spirit to be a constant and loving presence in carrying out the promises which have been made.
Journey of Faith
In the days and weeks and months which follow, the congregation works to include the newly Confirmed members by inviting them into the life and mission of the congregation. Congregations keep their promises whenever they encourage the young people to live in ways which reflect their discipleship in Christ.
One way that a child of God grows in faith is through the faith practice of service. I think of the young people I know who have helped at the local food pantry, or worked at a Habitat for Humanity build site, or have gone on Mission trips with other members of the congregation. As is always the case, when the group sets out to serve, the journey begins with a desire to help those who are being served and to relieve suffering in some say. That desire does indeed become fulfilled. The mystery is that in serving, the ones who serve are often those who report that they themselves are the ones who have gained the most. After a Mission Trip the participants will tell how they have become more grateful for the blessings in their own life, more trusting of God, more patient, more generous, and much more appreciative of others who may be very different from themselves.
Holy and Sacred Work
“To serve all people, following the example of Jesus” allows both those who are served AND those who serve to experience God’s transforming power in a real way.
Our faith practice of service is holy and sacred work – for the sake of those we serve – for the sake of our own spirituality – for the sake of the community to which we belong – and for the sake of God’s transforming reign in our world.