Coming of Age Rituals

My most vivid childhood memories of church may be grouped in two areas—the times I embarrassed myself (i.e. voice cracking while public speaking) and significant rituals. Communions, special holidays, confirmation and other such occasions provide clear markers of growth and change in life. Though at the time they may have felt burdensome and, even, to a teenager, annoying. Events that mark new phases in our lives often receive much greater importance in retrospect.

Going to confirmation is, unfortunately, not something that many of us enjoyed. Most likely required by parents to attend I assume that most people, like me, do not remember much of the class itself. The actual confirmation ritual, on the other hand, may stand out as a marker of a new phase of life. Even if the service itself was poorly led or marred by ecclesiastical or family mishaps (aren’t they all?), in our memories the event become a punctuation mark in life’s story.

As a community of faith we have a sacred responsibility to provide these occasions so that we may develop the faith of our children, but also so that we may assist their families in the process of maturation and growth. Coming of age rituals are some of our most important things we do.

This Sunday, May 19, we have an opportunity to experience three such moments in our service. We will baptize a baby, welcome children to the communion table, and confirm nine young adults into our church. This is not only an important event for them and their families, but also an occasion that is central to who we are as a church. I am looking forward to a profound and moving Sunday service. I know that the participants may look back and laugh at whatever goofy thing I may say, but, hopefully, they will look back and remember this day as one that helped to define who they were as a developing child of God.


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