It is a common problem in our culture to make religion about feeling and experience with little regard for knowledge and understanding. It goes without saying that a deep personal relationship with Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life is a crucial aspect of Christian faith. But without the mental equipment to comprehend what that faith means and how the Bible guides our way of living, then we are quite likely to encounter trouble in our religious life.
St. Paul dedicated his life to teaching from scripture how Jesus is the Christ and what that means for daily living. True Christianity has never been about empty liturgy and ritual. Christianity is not simply religious ecstasy. Christianity has always been about teaching and learning. Jesus taught his disciples. Paul taught in locations across the Mediterranean region. For generation upon generation Christianity has been transmitted by teaching and learning. At Heritage, we take two years of concentrated study to teach our adolescent youth about the basics of Christian faith. We call this process “Confirmation.” But confirmation is never the completion of Christian learning. It is simply a good beginning that opens the way for life-long learning as a Christian.
Now in the case of Heritage, confirmation is specifically Lutheran Confirmation. It is important that we all understand what this means. During the reformation Martin Luther and his associates spent a lot of time and energy thinking about what it means to be Christian and how to teach people about a Biblically based understanding of Christianity. The result of their work is reflected in a body of literature that we call the Lutheran Confessions. These Lutheran Confessions are not sacred in themselves, but they lay out ways that have proven effective for teaching people how to be Christian. So, the Lutheran Confessions, particularly the Catechisms, are a curriculum designed to teach people what it means to be Christian. They are a curriculum that is directly drawn from the pages of the Bible. This is how we prepare our students for confirmation. We are not just teaching them to be Lutherans. We are using a Lutheran method for teaching them to be Christians.
This coming Sunday, July 23rd, we will confirm three of our youth as adult members of our congregations. This means that they have studied the faith and are ready to make witness to their own understanding of Christianity. It is wonderful to know that they understand the key aspects of the Christian faith reflected in the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. They have a full adult comprehension of the Sacraments. We rejoice in this step that they take to further their faith. By it they more fully respond to Christ’s call to go, make, baptize, and teach.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)