Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Confirmation is Counter-Cultural and that is a Good Thing

"Our consumer culture is organized against history. There is a depreciation of memory and a ridicule of hope, which means everything must be held in the now, either an urgent now or an eternal now."
Walter Brueggemann in his book The Prophetic Imagination, 1978

   Our world and the culture that is so pervasive would have all of us reduce the timeline of history down into the mere present. Things have to be done now. Trust is lessened because it requires faith in the future. Most of all, the crime of culture tempts us to devalue the past because we've bought into the myth that our present is so different. Brueggemann, the Bible scholar and living legend in the world of church and academia, is speaking directly about us. 
   Yet, the church is called to hold the present in tension with the past and the future. There is more to history than right now. So, we read from the sacred texts of the Bible every week in worship and have volunteers teaching our children to memorize them every month. We sing songs that were not written to sell records. We gather in a place that was built by the hands of others who came before us. We go forth believing that our purpose in life is larger than our appetite or needs or impulses. This is the very essence of the church's counter-cultural response.
   Confirmation is also about honoring history, empowering our sense of memory, and finding hope in both the past and the future. As Confirmation Sunday approaches this weekend, I am looking back on the past three months spent in close proximity with the young people who have participated. I am in awe of what a blessing it has been for me personally. They are smart, funny, engaged, and every moment spent with them has been a tremendous gift. I am thankful to Andy Unger for his steady and faithful leadership in the lives of these young people. I am thankful to all of the parents who helped these young people to keep this a priority, and especially to Jenifer Middleton who attended every session and assisted in numerous ways as mom and leader. 
   We are more than just the present moment. The young people who stand in front of the church are embracing the past and staking a claim in the future. This is what all of us are called to do, every day. Faithfulness and trust in the Creator from our past and Savior of our present and future is the stuff of every day for Christians. Grace and Peace, Scott

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