Last Sunday we celebrated as 12 young people joined our church through the Rite of Confirmation or Reaffirmation of Faith. As the culmination of their year of study, reflection and conversation with their mentors, they prepared Faith Statements to express their understanding of our Christian faith. In this way, they were very much in keeping with the words on which the United Church of Christ was founded, words found in the Preamble to the Constitution of the UCC:
We claim as our own the faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers. We affirm the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God.
I hope you were moved by our worship last Sunday and, even more importantly, moved by the example of our Confirmands in boldly claiming the Christian faith in their own words as they took their place among us.
When was the last time you were bold enough to think through your own faith, even to attempt to write it down? Or perhaps you are afraid that you wouldn’t have gotten it “right,” wouldn’t have used the right words or would have allowed too many of your own doubts to creep in. S. Mark Heim wrote this in The Christian Century:
“A strong, world-altering faith…desperately needs the grace of self-doubt. A parsed, tentative, accommodating faith may be liable to triviality and indifference. It needs the grace to venture in uncertainty, to doubt its doubts, as Tillich put it…We live in a world where meanings are the things most worth passing on, not because they are an escape from the struggle for truth but because only such meanings face up to a central truth of our existence: it is a story in which we and all we know and make (will) end…On the other hand, we live in a world where we can never limit in advance the mystery of reality and the scope of novelty. Religious faith can be challenged as imagination running far beyond any empirical basis. But, in our time, it is as likely to be challenged because its range is too prosaic, its notions of mystery too small.”
I challenge you in the weeks ahead to be bold in continuing to build and rebuild your understanding of the faith. Be unafraid in facing the doubts and uncertainties that face us all. Let our faith embrace the mystery in which we live and the largeness of Spirit that is our God. Then we will be true to our Confirmands’ example and be fitting mentors in the faith.
Your friend and fellow minister,
Rev. Steve Savides