Contributed by C. Kit Wilke
[This service has evolved over several years. It reflects our practice of inclusiveness at First Congregational Church, Long Beach and the contemporary language of our young people. It understands that the proper meaning of “faith” is more close to “trust” than to “belief” and that affirmation of beliefs is far less significant than the courageous living-out of faith. Particular care has been given to remove the ambiguity, personalism and possible anti-physical and anti-sexual overtones of more traditional services. Yet it also seeks to remain within Trinitarian orthodoxy. Its foundations are the traditional services of Confirmation and specifically the service of Affirmation of Baptism in the Book of Worship, UCC 1986, to which it owes its fundamental form and content.]
INVITATION TO CONFIRMATION
Kit: [Confirmands’ Names]
M.E.K.: [More Kids’ Names]
Kit: we invite you to come forward to be baptized or to affirm the commitment of your baptism through Confirmation.
Kit: Friends, we are on a journey together. We are part of the pilgrimage of faith. Sometimes the journey is grim. Nothing seems able to rescue us from our hopelessness, our doubt, our loneliness, fear and addictions. Other times our experience of God’s love makes us brave in the most terrifying and challenging situations. For us it is a lifelong journey, but today is an important milestone in that journey.
M.E.K.: You are not alone in this journey. You have had the support of your own individual families and of this family at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ. …And you have – and will have – the support of thousands upon thousands who have struggled to walk this path of faith over the centuries. And you have the love and support of the Creator of all things.
Kit: We need to support each other because there are times when this congregation stands in the front lines of a number of struggles. The challenge and work in this congregation and in the United Church of Christ is not easy. But the love is real and the reward is joy as we move just a little closer to the new truth God calls each generation to discover.
Today we mark together a new reality. Not an end, but the recognition that, beginning today, your journeys continues in a new way.
M.E.K.: Beginning today you will no longer be strangers among us: somewhat irritating but mostly powerless challengers of our staid and stuffy thinking. Today you will become equal citizens, participating equally in the journey of faith we take together. Voting and arguing, challenging, supporting and loving with equal voice. Today, we recognize that you are participatory citizens and full members in this household of God, founded on the love of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the head and cornerstone in whom the whole structure is held together and becomes not just a group of people but a holy temple in which Christ dwells, in which God is present, and in which the Holy Spirit cares for us.
Kit: Today, in your Baptism, Johnathan, and in your adult affirmations of baptism and with prayer and with laying on of hands, we recognize your full membership in the body of Christ.
QUESTIONS OF THE CANDIDATES
M.E.K.: [Confirmands’ Names}, do you wish to give your adult affirmation to your participation in the Journey of Faith and the Family of Jesus Christ?
Candidates: I Do.
Kit: On your journey, is it your intent to be faithful by refusing to use fear, cruelty, addiction, greed, seduction, lies and other principalities and powers to manipulate other people and avoid honesty with yourself and God? Do you renounce such powers?
Candidates: I Do.
M.E.K.: Do you understand the love of God shown in Jesus Christ to be a faithful witness of the love of the Creator? And do you know how trust in that love can save you from slavery to fear — even the fear of death — and can set you free?
Candidates: I Do.
Kit: Do you covenant to walk together in all God’s Ways, known or to be made known to us, to be Christ’s disciple, to resist oppression and evil, to show love and justice, to witness to the work and word of Jesus Christ as best you are able.
Candidates: I promise, with the help of God.
Kit: Do you promise, according to the grace given you, to continue your journey of Faith, to trust in the love of God in Jesus Christ as you grow in faith and understanding, and to be a faithful member of this Congregation and of the whole Church of Jesus Christ, celebrating Gods love in worship and furthering Christ’s mission in the world with your love, your gifts, your thought, your honesty, your passion and your compassion.
Candidates: I promise, with the help of God.
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
M.E.K.: I would invite the whole congregation to stand and affirm our faith together with the candidates.
M.E.K.: Let us unite with the church in all times and places in confessing our faith in God.
M.E.K.:: Will you seek to place your deepest trust in the love of the Creator?
Congregation (including Confirmands): We trust in God.
M.E.K.: Do you trust that love shown in Jesus Christ?
Congregation: We trust Jesus Christ.
M.E.K.: Are you open to new possibilities through power of the Holy Spirit?
Congregation: We trust the power of the Holy Spirit.
PRAYERS OF CONFIRMATION
PRAYERS OF THE CANDIDATES:
Candidates: Creator of all, it is my desire to trust your faithful love above all things. Inspired by the love of Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, the call of scripture and the care of this community, help me be a faithful witness to your love in all I say and do. Amen.
SERVICE OF BAPTISM
M.E.K.: We are a people of and from water. We are born in water and carried in water. Life comes forth when water flows over the earth and the first life on earth was created in the ancient seas.
Kit: Water is our symbol of the new birth of faith. It is that place where fear and trust come together. Deep water fills us with fear. Water lifts us and hold us safe. We tell stories of walking through water and walking on water. These stories teach us to trust even when only fear seems real.
M.E.K.: We enter the Christian Church through water because it is the courage, trust and hope symbolized by water, that is the essence of the love we share here. Moses and Miriam walked through the Red Sea. John reenacts our entry into God’s Promised Land when John baptized people at the Jordan river. Jesus tells the Samaritan Woman that he is living water. And beside the sea of Galilee Jesus commissions us all to welcome people with love and bind ourselves to their lives with this symbol of faith.
Kit: [Name Of Candidate] has chosen to be baptized today. Let us pray for [her / him] and the Church he enters.
M.E.K.: May the love of creation’s first moments be in this water. May the courage of our savior’s liberating honesty flow through this water. May the flame of God’s joy pour into this water and into your soul.
Kit: [Name Of Candidate], we baptize you in the name of our Creator and Father, and of Christ, God’s Son, who makes us all people your sisters and brothers and in the name of the Sacred Spirit who wraps you round in the womb of her love, now and forever. Amen
ACT OF CONFIRMATION [All prayers were tailored to the individual youth. These are some examples.]
Kit: [Confirmand], may God’s love grow in you and may the Creator strengthen you to care for yourself and for those around you. May you be a witness to peace, and to the unity of all creation. May Jesus Christ remind you that you are loved and strengthen you to find forgiveness and peace when you hurt others or damage the earth. May the Holy Spirit give you hope and joy all your days.
MEK: [Confirmand], may God’s love grow in you and may God strengthen you to love and care for yourself and those around you. May the love of Jesus Christ remind you that you are loved and valued when problems or people make you feel bad. And may the power of the Holy Spirit give you joy in friends, family, life and life eternal.
Libby: [Female Confirmand], may certainty about the love, woven within – and hidden behind – the fabric of space and time, be an anchor for your soul. May your mind always be ready to explore, and your heart always ready to learn. May Shaddai, the mothering face Israel saw in God, the love shown in Christ and Sophia, God’s wise spirit give you honest courage, deep love and dancing joy.
M.E.K.: [Confirmand], may courage and truth well up in you until they become a river of love. May the joy of God’s creation feed you with hope. May the compassion in your words bring laughter and love to everyone around you and may you become a sign of hope to this congregation.
Kit: [Confirmand], may you always be certain of God’s love for you and certain of the grace which makes you the beautiful, powerful, courageous and caring person God has called you to be. May the Spirit of that love fill you and give you overflowing joy. May you become the prophet-publisher of peace, and in this earth, the voice of God’s songs of love.
Libby: [Confirmand], may God’s love grow in you and the power of the Creator strengthen and guide the creative power in you. May the forgiving grace of Jesus Christ for you give the power of forgiving grace to you. May the Holy Spirit strengthen you in all danger, open you to honest love and lift you to joy unending.
Kit: O God, give us joy in these new members of your body: in the work we do together, and the love we show together in your name. Thank you, God, for their future stewardship of your love on earth, their future stewardship of this church Through all the struggles and joys of life, help them feel your presence and your love. And, when life is come to an end my they, and we, lay ourselves down, unafraid, in the love you poured out before the first star was formed or space and time began to stretch themselves out from your heart. Amen.
Minister: Let those who are able stand and welcome these confirmands to the witness and mutual ministry of this congregation of the faithful.
People (addressing the new confirmands): We welcome you with joy! We surround you with the love that strengthens us all! We invite you to the love and labor of this congregation, of the United Church of Christ, and of the whole ecumenical church. May we challenge and love each other. May we follow together in the pathways, known or yet to be discovered, which God intends. May we all be witnesses to the world of the love shown by the Creator and by Christ. Welcome, full members of this body!
Greeting by Moderator & Deacons.