Our oldest son confirmed his Christian faith last weekend along with a group of thirty-some other ninth graders. Confirmation is not a path to salvation and is by no means a requirement to being a Christian. But these kids have been on a 2 ½ year journey together. A journey that at its core is a weekly foundational religion class but also so much more.
Confirmation may be familiar to some. Here on the tundra, many folks my age and older have memories of relatives traveling countless miles to congratulate this “achievement” and deliver a gift of religious meaning or cash, which most teens still appreciate.
Since I did not grow up in the Lutheran tradition, I was unsure how to properly celebrate this rite of passage. I asked around. It seems an open house with time-honored selections of buttered buns and casseroles are typical. But like many other religious traditions, the traditional confirmation party is fading in popularity.
I considered following the lower-key crowd, opting for a dinner out with just our immediate family and the grandparents. But that felt like minimizing the importance of what we want faith to be in our son’s life. A dinner out at our son’s favorite restaurant, which vacillates between the culinary mediocrity of Dairy Queen and Applebee’s, would be no different than what we do to celebrate his birthday or a random Friday night when I don’t feel like cooking.
Heck, high school sports teams have celebratory banquets at the end of every season, even less than stellar seasons. Rah, rah, some of you tried hard. Good for you!
And most high school graduates have catered parties even though attending school is the law for minors, and in most cases, obtaining a high school diploma should probably be the very minimum standard we set for our children.
So I opted to travel the old-fashioned route; a confirmation open house with abundant food and a sheet cake. Although I did use electronic invitations. Consider that my nod to current convention and admittedly, my own laziness.
Getting ready to host a party for 40+ people was a lot of work. My mother watched wide-eyed as I scurried around, setting out chairs and bowls of nuts, made several trips to the grocery store and chopped veggies and sliced cheese for what seemed like days. It was indeed all a bit exhausting. BUT, worth every bit of effort and here’s why…
- It is my prayer that our son will cherish his relationship with God, lean on Him in times of trial and trust in His goodness throughout life. A memorable celebration conveys the significance of this hope.
- Religion class can seem tedious and time consuming in a teen’s 21st century hyper-busy life. But if we’re going to hand out participation trophies for the most minor of life’s activities, a larger celebration for staying committed to something as vital as faith development is certainly in order. (BTW, our kids see our efforts to get them to certain activities and out of others, thus internalizing what we deem important. Just sayin’.)
- People need community. We need to know we’re not alone, that we are supported by fellow believers as we attempt to live a daily life modeled after Christ the redeemer. Our son experienced a house full of people, all here for him, and all essentially saying, “We believe as you believe and we are your family committed to helping you walk in the way of truth, not just at church on Sunday mornings and during religion class, but all the time. We love you as Christ loves you and we’re in this together.”