In the corner of our church entry is a display of over 100 years of confirmation class pictures. Most of us have enjoyed looking through the display and identifying ourselves, a family member, or friend and seeing the young face of confirmation days. In some families, pictures of a grandparent, parent, and then child can be followed through the years of confirmation pictures. I find as I look through some of the older pictures, I often immediately identify the young face of the person who today is quite elderly. Their distinctive look cannot be missed. Other times, the younger face is a name I know but the person looks much different as the years have progressed.
Begun by Martin Luther, who was a strong advocate of training children in the Christian faith, our Lutheran church has kept a tradition of pastor-led Christian training of our children during the early adulthood years. Over the history of our church, Ebenezer has had faithful pastors training our youth in the principles of the Christian faith and after two years of instruction given them the opportunity to ‘confirm’ their faith before the congregation. I except every picture of the hundreds shown on display are individuals who have stood before the congregation declaring their faith in Christ. No doubt the faith expressed was honest and sincere. No doubt the expression came from a clear understanding of their place as sinner who accepts Christ as Savior and Lord.
It is the years that follow, however, which give a more powerful testimony of faith. More than a special service of ‘confirmation’, the true identity of the heart of each face on display comes from the years that follow. Just as some pictures show a young face that today looks very different so too is the person who announces their faith in Confirmation Sunday and then lives out that faith over the years. In those faith living years, great changes take place in the person. The person of Jesus and fruit of the Spirit of God is developed within the individual and lived out over the course of a lifetime.
Each of us should take an old picture of years gone by and looking at your young self reflect upon our Christian faith and life with questions:
Do people know me today as only an older me who has barely changed? Or do people see me today as a person they would barely recognize because over the years, the Lord has been filling my life with His spirit and image?
May we be barely recognized from our confirmation days as
– “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)