The Service with an Introduction

by David Hawkinson

One of the many blessings of our lives has been the weaving together of our family into the lives of several other families.We get together to eat, party, dance, sing, worship, and support each other. Our children have grown up together and have found friends in each other and with the adults who fill their lives. Some of us have travelled together, the dads have taken the kids on trips, including a regular sailing trip on Lake Superior. Each year we cook, celebrate, and eat a traditional Passover Sederservice — the complete service including Hebrew songs and Bible study. Every other year, we sing an entire nine lessons and carols advent service in our home. It is important that our children are with us in all of these ventures. Each venture has become a critical part of our common life and provides moments from which we draw strength and spirit.

One part of the tradition we have come to cherish is the celebration of each child on the day of her or his confirmation. This year we honored Adam, Gretchen, and Scott. It was also the feast day of Pentecost. As is our custom, we gathered in one of our homes, transformed a room into a chapel, told stories, blessed each student,and celebrated the Eucharist together.

I mention these matters by way of introducing the question of the intimate and critical relationship between the Baptism of our children and their Confirmation. In both settings, we have found it important to surround them with the community of Faith; the one they worship and study with and the one which is their conventicle — the community in which they are most fully known. Our intention as their community is not to take these passages for granted nor to treat them lightly, as if they were something squeezed into a service that hardly took notice that they were dressed in white robes. Baptism and Confirmation are moments that involve the crossing of thresholds. Whatever psychological and developmental boundaries such acts might cross, they pale in comparison with the crossing into the mystery of grace and the presence of God. In this realm, who is a child and who is an adult? Unless you enter as a child, says Jesus, you cannot enter!

Confirmands and Pastors, from left: Scott Jenson, Jim Anderson, Glen Wiberg, Adam Frank, David Hawkinson, and Gretchen Stohlberg

As I have spoken about this service to others, some suggested that readers of Pietisten might be interested in the service itself. In addition, since one of the confirmands was the grandson of Rev. Glen Wiberg, it is an additional joy to reprint his meditation given at the home service. Rev. Jim Anderson, Rev. Glen Wiberg, and I led the service. We dressed up in our finest linen Albs and wore our most festive vestments. It was informality done with class and with the ritual presence of the Church!

We include Glen's meditation, Kathie Frank's reflections as a parent, and an essay focusing on Confirmation by Elder Lindahl.

David Hawkinson is a teacher of Bible, editor of Pietisten, and Pastor of Covenant Community Church, Jericho, Vermont.

See all articles by David Hawkinson