It looks like spring might finally come after a winter filled with snowstorms, ice, bitter winds and new records for low temperatures. Winter may have a last gasp or two, but in most places things are starting to warm up. On one hand, my irises are, as usual, trying to rush the growing season. On the other hand, my roses are wisely laying low until evidence of several sunny days in a row.
In the congregation where I worship, we have a long tradition of confirmation classes slogging through winter by studying theology, history, polity and Scripture. Now, as spring approaches, these youngsters are writing down their own understanding of what it all means. Soon, they will meet with the session and answer questions about their faith and what they have learned. Elders will most likely gain new insights on their own faith from the conversations. I know my faith has already been enriched through the conversations I have had with the fine young confirmand for whom I am a mentor.
The culmination of this leg of their faith journey will be Easter. The confirmands will stand with smiling parents before the congregation and answer questions that reaffirm the baptismal covenant made years earlier. The minister will pray, perhaps by saying, “Defend, O Lord, your servant with your heavenly grace, that he/she may continue yours forever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more, until he/she comes to your everlasting kingdom” (Book of Common Worship, Pastoral Edition, p. 66).
This particular prayer was made very real to me recently. A member of the Sunday school class I teach monthly died after a long and faith-filled life. According to witnesses who were with her at the end, her last word was “Amen.” The winter of her illness was past; the spring of everlasting life had begun.
As she rests in peace, these young confirmands are on the brink of claiming faith in Jesus for themselves. May theirs also be long and faith-filled lives.
And may you experience anew your own springtime of faith.
The Reverend Gradye Parsons is Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).