The Questions of Confirmation

“Why does God allow evil in the world?”
“Can God really love you no matter what you’ve done? Or what you will do?”
“How do I know this is all for real?
“What’s God’s favorite color?”

The fifty or so hand-written questions sprawled out all over my desk in the Justin as I tried to put them into piles to make sense of how to respond to them, but I found myself stumbling over their unexpected complexity. Is a question like “When Jesus is praying, who is he praying to?” a question about the nature of the trinity or about the purpose of prayer? Is a question like “if God created everything, where did God come from?” a question about creation, or about the character of God?

These questions are exactly the kind of questions that adults can easily dismiss as silly, but they reveal a deep wondering – about the nature of God, about our place in creation, about grace and forgiveness, and what the life of Jesus means for us. I have loved working with the confirmation class, all sixth-graders, for a lot of reasons, one being because they don’t bother with questions of worship style, programming focus, or so many of the other things that occupy the conversations in the church hallway. Their questions – brave, unapologetic, and honest – are about only the most important questions of our faith (and God’s favorite color).

Once I had the questions in reasonably cohesive piles, I took the three most asked questions and turned them into an exercise where cohorts used the quadrilateral to work their way to an answer themselves. This past Sunday, at our Confirmation Retreat, I sat with a cohort in the warm Texas-in-January sun, and while talking about the question of who Jesus prays too, heard a sixth-grader craft a metaphor of Jesus as a lens which, when the light of God shines through it, can fragment, or focus, the light so we can understand it more fully. I found myself feeling grateful that I hadn’t tried to answer the question myself and had just let them wonder.

There is so often a temptation to answer the questions of children, thinking what they need from us are certainty and stability. This particular confirmation class, shaped by a pandemic that we could not predict or control, taught me the value of pointing them not towards my own correct answers or expertise, but to their own agency, their own intuitive sense of the divine, and the mystery of God.

Confirmation ultimately ends in seven questions, the vows of confirmation. It seems all to appropriate that after the 50 questions they asked me, they will end their experience with us posing the questions to them.

“Do you accept the freedom and power Christ gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression?”
“Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in His grace, and promise to serve Him as Lord?”
“Will you remain loyal to the church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world?”

The questions of the confirmands are around who God is and who they are, why there is something instead of nothing, and what it all means. The question we ask in return is “Will you stay with us to figure it out?”

We hope to see all of you Sunday for the first of our two confirmation services. These young people are truly special, and it has been a great joy, great humbling, and a great reminder of why we do youth ministry in the first place, to walk alongside them.

Kat Bair
Director of Youth Ministries


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