Last night, we celebrated our 8th Graders who are getting ready to make their Confirmation this Sunday. It’s a special day in the lives of our students, so we celebrate them at a special banquet every year. Everyone gets dressed up and we put on an amazing spread of food for families.
Each year, we get comments about how great the event is, but especially about the food. That’s all thanks to Mike Hangen and his crew of helpers. This year, that was Anne Miller and Kathy Figini. (Kathy #1 of Kathy, Cathy, Kathy, Cathi, Kathy fame.) The team outdid themselves again this year!
Another special piece of the banquet is that our High School students serve the meal to the 8th Graders. Megan, Shannon, Hope, Kelsey and Anna were our serving crew this year. It’s fun to see them serve, but especially fun for this event as they wait on the “Rising Freshman” as they are starting to be called.
The best part, however, is this is an opportunity for students to get some one-on-one focused time with their parents. Just like with Everyday Faith: My Bible and the Senior Blessing Event, we want to provide opportunities for families to have special moments with their children. For many of the kids, this is probably one of the few times when they’re able to be the sole point of attention for their parents.
We wrapped up the Apostle’s Creed this evening. Here’s the audio file in case you want to tune in:
I’ve been delinquent getting some Confirmation Audio online. Here’s the last several in case you were eagerly awaiting them!
Confession and Absolution:
Apostle’s Creed 1:
Apostle’s Creed 2:
Jesus Video for Apostle’s Creed 2:
Apostle’s Creed 3:
Jesus Video for Apostle’s Creed 3:
The videos come from Vintage 21. We use them as a starting point for talking about Jesus under the guise of “This is what Jesus isn’t like.”
As part of the Children’s message, last Sunday, I talked about how God tells us there’s a right order for things in our life. It was all part of Putting God First. And it’s true. God wants to be first in our lives.
I like things in the right order (and centered/level on the wall, but that’s another topic!). It bothers me when they aren’t. A lot.
This year I’ve been working on updating our Cornerstone Curriculum. As part of our confirmation classes, each week the students receive a business card with the scriptures for the day printed on them. Here’s this evening’s:
Well, it’s what this evening’s should have looked like. It actually lists Romans 5:8 second to last. In an attempt to be “on the ball” and “helpful”, I printed the cards before I was finished with the lesson so they could be cut this morning. Then I came in and finished the lesson and decided a different order would be best. So now the verses are in the wrong order.
This isn’t the first time it happened. It’s not really a big deal I suppose. Of course, it ends up being a little game because a number of our youth like the card in order as well. Maybe I should always make one verse out of order on the card.
Tonight at Cornerstone we continue the Lord’s Prayer, looking at “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Our game this evening is Long Live The KING. Let me know your score if you end up playing along!
Two guest small group leaders this evening. My Jaime will be filling in for Sue, who’s at the KINDLE training event in Mundelein, IL. Michelle will be filling in for Darcy. Excited to have them both with us this evening.
We spent last night orienting to a new year of Cornerstone. Last year we had a full class period with no lesson to get acclimated. It seemed to long. This year we tried to just fit it in to the normal class time with a few modifications. There wasn’t enough time. I think next year we’ll try doing a 2-hour first class. We’ll see.
Introduced the topic of prayer before getting into the Lord’s Prayer specifically. The key points from the lesson:
- Revelation 22:8-9 | The angel tells John to Worship God alone. It’s a good reminder that we should also pray to God alone. Not to the saints, not to angels, but only God because He’s the only one that can hear and answer our prayers.
- Romans 8:26 | The Holy Spirit prays with us. Great news for when we don’t know what to pray.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 | Pray a lot. Find opportunities to pray throughout the day. Maybe it’s between classes, whenever you look outside, before meals, whatever. Look for those opportunities to pray to God.
- Matthew 6:5-8 | It’s what on the inside that matters. We don’t pray to be noticed by others. It’s ok to pray in public, but we need to do it from a pure heart.
- Matthew 6:9-13 | Here’s where we get the Lord’s Prayer from. Don’t know what to pray? Pray this!
- Luke 11:11-13 | Just as earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children, so our Heavenly Father does the same. God gives good. He’s unlike our earthly fathers in that He never fails, forgets or hurts us. God gives good. Jaclyn had a great question on this point. She was reading a book in English class and the boy in the story was being abused by his mother. For six years he prayed to God for help and for six years saw nothing. If God gives good, where was He for this boy? Great question! I love when students make connections to real life from what we discuss at Cornerstone. It’s part of being relevant to today. I told her that sometimes God lets bad things happen to us to prepare us for ministry and to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes we don’t see what the good in this situation is until much later in life. Sometimes, we never understand the good because God is something completely and utterly different. His ways are not our ways.
- Jeremiah 23:28 | One of the ways that we “hallow” God’s name is speaking His Word faithfully. We don’t ignore parts or change it.
- Matthew 5:16 | Another way we “hallow” God’s name is when we serve and care for others, pointing them back to the Father.
- Romans 3:23-24 | We “hollow” God’s name when our actions don’t match our words regarding what God says about how we should live.
Overall, a fun night. Here’s the audio file from the evening:
At Cornerstone, we work through the Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Small Catechism as part of our Confirmation instruction. Of course, we’re putting our own digital spin on things to help students connect with the material. We’ve contracted with a graphic designer in Spokane, Washington to make backgrounds for our teaching time that enhance the message. Check out the first drafts:
As I said, this is the first run, but I was so excited to get them. I’ll post the final versions when they’re done, but couldn’t wait to share what we’ve got so far.
Eventually, we hope to publish our Confirmation Curriculum for other churches to use in their Confirmation ministries. We’ve been blessed with enough staff that we can spend time developing quality materials and we want to be a blessing to others as well. We’re well on our way to getting there as we’ve got over half the material done. We’ll finish it off this year and then it’s down to just tweaking and editing to make sure it’s ready to go.
I can’t tell you how many times I see students misspell “Confirmation” as “Conformation.” This is highly amusing to me knowing the traditional confirmation ministry is much closer to conformation in design and mind set. I suppose there is some Biblical evidence for the misspelled name:
Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
In a way, the confirmation process is about the Spirit working to conform us to the image of the Son. So maybe it’s not such a bad name after all…
One of the things our consultant told us about communicating is that we should sell ourselves through the art of telling our story. Our story communicates who we are, what we believe and where we’re going in a powerful, personal way. I loved the idea. We have an awesome collective story to share as a church, and we each have a story to share in our own lives.
Our youth have awesome stories to share as well. Tonight is one of my favorite nights of the year in Student Ministry. Our 8th graders write a personal faith story based on Paul’s model in Acts 26. The basic outline:
- Tell what your life was like before Christ or how you were cared for if you’ve always known Christ.
- Tell how you met Christ. Maybe it’s your conversion story, or maybe it’s how you realized that Jesus was more than just a set of facts from the Bible. It’s how you came to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
- Challenge others to know Jesus in a similar way.
At this stage, most of the stories need some refining. I make comments (sometimes LOTS) on their drafts and then I get to sit with each student 1 on 1 and talk about it. It’s a wonderful glimpse into their heart as we get to talk and share together. The culmination will be sharing their stories at our annual Confirmand Banquet on the Thursday before Confirmation.
When I first started teaching Confirmation, my least favorite topic to teach was the Commandments. I accepted that they are important, but I didn’t think they ranked up there with Communion, Baptism, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. I’ve done a 180 on this in the last few years. Now, they are my favorite. The students interact with the Commandments in a real way as they are challenged to evaluate their current lifestyle in light of God’s Word.
And now we’re into the really good stuff. Last week was murder, including hating someone. Tonight we covered Adultery. The points, with links to the Scripture passages we use to talk about them:
- Sex is a gift from God
- Sex outside marriage is sin
- Divorce is sin (We also stress that there is forgiveness for divorce)
- Impure thoughts are sin (we also cover how we dress, especially as it relates to girls’ dress habits)
- Homosexuality is sin (And no different from lying, stealing, cheating or killing in God’s eyes. God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.)
The lustful thoughts and how we dress conversation is always interesting. Phil Morris, one of our small group leaders, is a great resource here as he shares his thoughts with the kids. He’s younger than me–and much cooler–so when he backs me up, the students really listen. Jaime passed along a great website that specializes in fashionable clothing and swimsuits that are more modest than the standard offerings at the mall. Check them out at DiviineModesTee.com and show your kids.
If you want to check out the full audio recording of the class, it’s available on our Podcast. Directions for subscribing in iTunes can be found on our website. There’s even a funny interruption around the 25 minute mark in the podcast. You can also download the current homework as well.
I’ve written about how much I love our youth in the past. I’ll probably write about it again in the future. It’s a real joy to work with them. I often hear from people about how they could never do my job. A number of them fear for their lives around youth. Some of them just don’t understand youth. Others think youth do stupid things and don’t care about anything spiritual. I guess it’s just an example of everyone having different gifts.
Well, I’m thankful (and I think many others are as well) that I enjoy working with youth. One of the highlights of my ministry is teaching Confirmation. Many people, including Lutheran Church Workers, hear that and think I’m crazy. And my favorite part about Confirmation is teaching the Commandments. For whatever reason, students connect to the Commandments in a way that really makes them think about how they are living their lives. I had rehearsed about 15 minutes worth of teaching, which is usually about 20 minutes long when we add in student readers and jokes I don’t make during the rehearsal. Last night at Cornerstone, we spent 45+ minutes on the teaching time because of all the questions that the students asked. As a teacher, it’s a real joy to have so many youth seeking to know the truth of the Scriptures!
You can listen to the whole teaching time online. Check out the Cornerstone Podcast for the audio from last night. You can even subscribe using iTunes or your favorite RSS Reader, just like you would do for this blog.