Monday, May 11, 2009

Faith Statements

I have been thinking about faith statements lately. In particular, the faith statements of my own children. All of our boys have chosen to be confirmed in our local Lutheran church. Confirmation has always been an option for them. I think it is my responsibility to be open for discussion on faith and share my own beliefs. However, I believe that people have differing faith journeys, and I cannot possibly know what their's is to look like. The boys have all chosen to spend a couple years studying their faith within and without the context of the Lutheran church. They choose to say, "Yes, I am reaffirming my baptism, now that I am at an age to make a conscious choice." They then write and read their faith statements to the entire congregation on their confirmation day.

From a very selfish perspective, I like that their faith-statements are almost always the first writing my children do. Yes..we play with writing, but they never really start writing until late middle school when they are writing their faith statements.

Last week, as Austen was trying to figure out how to write his own statement, we dug up his brothers' old statements. I was struck with how accurately each boys statements reflect their personalities. So, just for fun, thought I'd post them. Don't worry. Remember, this is the first piece of formal writing for all of them. Not very long.


My name is Brian Bates. When someone first says the word "church" the things that I picture are not necessarily "churchly" things. For example, I know that I can always find Elliott in the Youth Room sleeping when I get here. If for some reason, he is not there, he'll be in the kitchen. The word "church" brings to my mind thoughts of friends, food, the attic and other things I should probably not mention. However, I know there is much more to church than these immediate images.
After this year's first confirmation class, my little brother asked me, "so what is confirmation anyway?" I told him it's about asking lots of questions. Now that I am finally getting confirmed, I realize that there is a lot of truth to what I told him. I have walked out of church many times, with more questions than when I entered. I wonder, what really is a perfect Earth? What is God's plan for me? How do I love my neighbor when they are, well, not always so lovable? confirmation does not mean I know the anser to these questions. It means I am just beginning my Christian journey.
In my baptism, I was brought into God's family. I had no questions. I was just loved. In my first communion, I learned the importance of forgiveness. Now, as I become confirmed, I am learning the importance of becoming an active, accountable member of not just my own spirtual growth, but in helping in the growth of the congregation as well.
So while I would love to spend all my time hanging out in the Youth Room, listening to music and eating candy, or..creating mischief in the loft, I understand that I cannot just take from the church. Now it is time for me to start giving back.


I was asked recently what exactly it means to be confirmed. In a nutshell, I would say confirmation is a reaffirmation of my faith, but that is too vague of a response. a walnut shell, I would say it is getting ready to be an official member of the church.
But what does that mean? As I reflect on the past 2 years I wonder what has changed. Yes, we played with fire. Yes, we tried Pastor Karl's patience. We hid from Ms. Dina (that was fun). We played trivia games. Bet we did do more. We looked in depth at the 10 Commandments and how they apply to our lives both in and out of the church. We dug a little deeper into the Apostle's Creed.
We come to the realization that church is not contained within these walls on Sunday mornings.
I look at the boldness of some of our church leaders. Those that were not afraid to say "Enough". Martin Luther made a stand during a corrupt time in the Catholic Church. Bonhoeffer took a stand during the Holocaust. I think of these examples as I maintain my involvenment in the Darfur Interfaith Coalition.
To be a member of the church is an ongoing process. I plan to continue this process.


When I first started to think about what to say for my confirmation, I stressed out. I told my mom.."I think I'm getting a head-ache." So she asked me to put the papers aside (the ones from Pastor Karl) and just think of images.

This is a list of what came to mind:
Reading the daily devotionals with Devin
Blowing up bottles with toilet bowl cleaner
Foot through the ceiling in the kitchen...and having to repair it later
Ryan and Ace going down the hill in a mop-bucket.
Going down the hill in a broken wheel chair.
Rock fights on the play-ground. We actually haven't had one in a while. Good thing. It kinda hurt.
Church camp-outs.
Trying to climb the church walls.
The Easter Egg hunts. Those are fun. I remember once Ryan put an egg inside an ant pile. Wow that hurt.
Cookies..deffinatley the cookies.

My brother Brian once said that when you speak of church what comes to mind are not necessarily what many consider to be "churchly" things. Now I know what he is talking about.
I am beginning to understand that church is not just about praising God (though that is very important) but about the people in our communities as well. It is about the relationships we build. It is about helping others develop their own relationships with God.
Jesus was known to hang around with some questionable characters. Someone once said, "Be careful when you bring Jesus into your home, he might bring his friends with him!" I think it is important for all of us to remember that. Our relationships should be unconditional.
I was asked in a recent devotional, if the road I was on today was a road where I would encounter God traveling with me.
I thought about this. I try to keep God in my heart in my daily life. I try to walk with God as I study, as I hang out at the Boys an Girls Club, as I hang out with my friends.
In other words, minster to all.
Thank you.


Sardine Mama said...

OK! I'm ready to become a Lutheran! Seriously! Sign me up! Beautiful job by the boys. Their personalities shine through but behind it all is a loving, devoted, and inspirational mama.

Julia Ellen Smith said...

What awesome kids you have. Kids are amazing, aren't they? I think everyone has a perfectly unique relationship with the creator that cannot be duplicated. It's kind of amazing that we can do "church" at all with that kind of variety.

Anonymous said...

This is really cool! I think I will mention it in my blog: God in the Grit.

Thank the boys.

grillledcheesechic said...

Anonymous..nice blog. Feel free to post away.