Thursday, June 12, 2008

Confirmation Guidelines

Messiah Lutheran Church
Marysville, WA

“What is confirmation? Confirmation is a public rite of the church preceded by a period of instruction designed to help baptized Christians identify with the life and mission of the Christian community ... Prior to admission to the Lord’s Supper, it is necessary to be instructed in the Christian faith (1 Cor. 11:28). The rite of confirmation provides an opportunity for the individual Christian, relying on God’s promise given in Holy Baptism, to make a personal public confession of the faith and a lifelong pledge of fidelity to Christ.” (Question 306 in Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation)

To this end, here are guidelines for the “catechesis” * or “instruction” of our “catechumens” or “learners” who are preparing for the Rite of Confirmation:

  1. Who & When: Catechumens who have just finished the 7th grade will begin their catechesis in the summer following the school year. Class sessions will meet during the summer months at the times agreed upon (see the accompanying schedule). The schedule will include Opening Worship, Catechesis I, Snack Time and Break, Catechesis II, and Closing Prayer.
  2. Curriculum: One summer’s instruction will consist of an overview of the Bible and God’s salvation history, with reference to Luther’s Small Catechism. The other summer will strictly consist of a study of the Six Chief Parts of the Small Catechism.
  3. Two School-Year Retreats: There will be two retreats during the school year which the catechumens are expected to attend, since we will also be engaged in catechesis during those retreats. Information about retreats will be available at a later date.
  4. Worship Notes: Throughout the summer months and the school year, the catechumens will be expected to complete “Worship Notes” and will submit them for Pastor to review. Two “Worship Notes” per month are required. Blank “Worship Notes” forms are available in the indicated slot in the Council Room. Pick one up before the service and place it in Pastor’s mail slot when completed after the service. If the catechumens fall behind, they may submit more than two in a given month.
  5. Memory Work: During their period of catechesis (including the school year), the catechumens will also be expected to memorize selected portions of the Small Catechism and assorted Bible verses. This is to be completed at home between the parents and the student. A list and an online checklist will be provided for parents to indicate when their child has recited the selected portion to them. Periodically, I will check to see the progress which the catechumens have made in their memorization.
  6. Materials to Bring: Please bring these materials each day: Workbook, Catechism, Bible, pen or pencil, highlighter.
  7. Behavior: Catechumens are to be at their best behavior and not distracting to the others. If behavior becomes a problem, the parent will be asked to join them for confirmation class. If behavior problems cannot be resolved, the individual may be asked to withdraw from confirmation catechesis until he/she has reached an appropriate level of maturity. We plan to have an enjoyable time, but it is also time for work. This is a learning environment that is far greater than any other since it involves eternal matters, matters of faith and salvation.
  8. Confirmation Verse & Banner: Towards the end of the second summer, each catechumen will choose a Confirmation Verse from a pre-selected list of verses. This verse will also serve as the basis for the Confirmation Banner which you are responsible to create. Ideas and instructions will be presented at the appropriate time.
  9. Final Interview: In September and October following the second summer of catechesis, each catechumen will be interviewed by the pastor with their parents present. Appointments will be made when the time approaches. The catechumens will then be welcomed into “Communicant Membership” of Messiah Lutheran Church when they, their parents, and the pastor agree that they are ready.
  10. Church Attendance, etc.: Above all, remember that catechesis is more than just “knowing.” Confirmation is not Graduation. It is a step along the way in one’s ongoing growth in our life in Christ. Therefore, confirmation also involves the “doing” of those things which will continue to be part of the Christian’s life after Baptism:
  • Attending Sunday Divine Services & Sunday School throughout the year
  • Attending other special services (for example, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Ascension, etc.)
  • Confession & Absolution
  • Living in one’s Vocation (that is, your “calling” ... your place in life where God has put you at any given time and the responsibilities that come with that vocation ... for example, son, daughter, brother, sister, student, friend, etc.)

* What’s with all the fancy words? Although I could use the typical words “instruction” and “student,” I’m trying to get across the idea that this is something special, different from school and homework. That stuff is important, too, but math and science and reading and history will not get a person into heaven.

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