“I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith.” Luther’s Small Catechism, part of the Explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles Creed.
I love teaching confirmation. It is a great delight to share of the faith and to get to know the students here at Hope. They ask the “big questions” and are aghast of some of the more scandalous parts of the story, you know the things that we have gotten used to… like crucifixion and betrayal.
Last semester we did an overview of the Bible and now we will delve into Luther’s Small Catechism. I don’t expect them to understand it all. How could they? I mean, you and I still don’t understand it all. I don’t expect them to memorize. Not because they can’t (because they memorize hip-hop after hearing it just once) but I don’t ask them to memorize because of the stories of the past. Those are mostly your stories of how awful the pressure to memorize was! No. We will examine the Catechism and try to learn some things from it, but mostly we will share ideas and questions.
Really, my goal is not to impart information, but instead my goal is to make sure that these students have a relationship with the church and with you. It is relationship that keeps people in the faith. Sure, learning the narrative and some of the theology can be helpful, but if they know us well enough, they will feel comfortable to ask for help when they need it. They will be courageous enough to challenge a belief if they know that we value their ideas. They will be vulnerable enough to want to learn about the love of God because they have already learned from us that this love is for them and through us.
Please pray for our confirmation students and maybe review that old Catechism that you once knew so very well. It may sound differently to your ears today.