Jesus was tested by a Pharisee Lawyer as to which commandment in the Law is greatest. He quotes from Torah, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” I like the Message paraphrase, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.”
We finished our Confirmation school year with anonymous “God Questions” submitted by 6th-8th graders. There were some jawdropping examples, like, “Were Christians against the Holocaust?” Think about that one for awhile! We talked about the importance of loving God not just with our feelings – which are extremely passionate and unreliable, especially during puberty! – but also with our minds. Much as an eighth grade student no longer fits into their old Vacation Bible School t-shirt, in the same way, they are beginning to outgrow their VBS faith. Transitional periods of life always introduce transitional questions, doubts or reframing of faith, beliefs, and practices. And Bethesda is committed to loving, supporting and teaching adolescents through this season of life.
Apostle Paul urged the Roman house churches, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Our Confirmation program – and its extension into High School youth group and mentoring – is designed to confirm the gracious presence and activity of God in our lives. We pray each student might trust in the God who promises to transform us into the image of His beloved Son (2 Corinthians 3:18) and to renew our minds so we would not conform to the ways of the world. You can’t renew your mind unless you are willing to ask the hard questions and unless the Church is willing to field such questions.
I thank God for the blessing of teaching Confirmation and getting to work with these amazing kids. I thank God for the volunteer leaders who have worked with our youth programs this year: Doug and Susan Detels, Heidi Detels, Maya Gilbert, Yvette Jernberg, Steve and Jill Lauch, Cindy Littrell, Deanna Rivera.