The Narrative Lectionary on May 3, 2015 is Romans 1:1-17. The first Sunday in May was the particular Sunday that my home church always celebrated the Confirmation of its youngest members. J.R. Daniel Kirk comments that the thesis of this letter in verses 16-17 answers all of those big questions about faith. Or at least, it begins to describe what Paul thinks the Gospel is all about.
It seems to me that we can’t omit the powerful witness of what it means to be a Christian community in the preceding verses. For those that fear that Confirmation is a graduation, or those that fear that they are supposed to have all of the answers, there is no greater affirmation than that we will encourage each other to pass along our spiritual gifts (whether or not we know what they are) and that we will mutually encourage each other. Whether or not we find a mirror image of our own faithfulness, we’ll be encouraged by the faithfulness we find. Seems like good solid wisdom for those of us that are still trying to figure things out. The liturgy you’ll find below reflects these themes with a particular nod toward Confirmation Sunday.
Call to Worship (Responsive)
We gather together to remember that
we are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people.
We come to mutually encourage each other.
We come to remember that we are not alone.
We come to find strength.
Because while we’ve been apart
we haven’t been so certain of ourselves.
We haven’t believed as we should.
We haven’t been reminded of our gifts.
We come to words for our hope.
We come to find a tune to sing of God’s grace.
We gather here to be the body of Christ.
Affirmations of Faith
It has become very popular to encourage young people to write their own Statements of Faith which are often read in worship on Confirmation Sunday. I don’t like to do anything quite that simple — because it’s not really the teenagers that are thinking about this for the first time. At every age, we are trying to complete the sentence, “This I believe…”
Begin this interactive moment of worship by saying:
This I believe, said Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ,
I believe God promised good news about his Son ahead of time
through his prophets in the holy scriptures.
His Son was descended from David.He was publicly identified as God’s Son
with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness.
This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace.
This I believe was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake.
And you are included. You who are called by Jesus Christ to share what you believe.
Come forward and receive a word of inspiration from one of the index cards before you.
Write on the reverse side your “This I believe…”
Let us mutually encourage each other in these words.
It’s at this moment that the musician would play something meditative.
Upon a table, or several tables if you have a large congregation, have colored index cards. On the unlined side of each card, write one theological term including in big bold block letters: GOOD NEWS, RESURRECTION, JESUS, GOD, CHRIST, GRACE, FAITH, COMMUNITY, SALVATION, ENCOURAGEMENT, HOLY SPIRIT, MEMBER, BAPTISM, PRAYER, and CHURCH. Make duplicates because you’ll need one for every member of the congregation. On the reverse side, each worshipper will use this particular word as inspiration for her brief 2-3 sentences of “This I believe…” I strongly suggest printing directions on a piece of paper upon the table. I always frame these instructions in cheap black frames as you can see here. Provide plenty of pencils on each table so that worshippers can write at the table. You may also choose to include some version of the instructions from the NPR version of This I Believe.
As the music concludes, these affirmations must be shared aloud. Do so with music. Lead a refrain of This Little Light of Mine and then invite the congregation:
This I believe, said Paul,
but you are included. Your faith encourages us too.
Let us continue singing “This Little Light of Mine”
after we’ve heard an affirmation of the faith gathered here.
You’re invited to share your affirmations — one by one —
between verses of “This Little Light of Mine.”
What do you believe?
This may be slow going — so you can repeat the question “What do you believe?” after each refrain. As you can probably guess, this could take FOREVER so it’s best to have a way where these affirmations might be shared. In a manner fitting to your space, display these cards in the narthex or in worhsip space.
If you use the prayers I’ve written in your worship, and I hope you will, please do offer me credit with as follows:
The prayers in our worship this morning were written by/adapted from Liturgical Lights for Sunday May 3, 2015 by the Rev. Elsa Anders Peters. Elsa is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ who blogs at revelsaanderspeters.com.