Today was a big day in my daughter's religious education: along with the rest of her confirmation class, she answered a series of questions on the Bible and the Christian faith to show that she has an understanding of what she has been taught. Next week she will be received into the congregation as an adult member.
But every year at confirmation time, I can't help but wonder: Do we ask the right questions of our youth? They have demonstrated that they know the Bible both in its books and in its main messages. They have shown understanding of the law of God, and about repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life. They have stated their understanding that the most important teaching of the Bible is God's goodness and love. They have shown knowledge of key passages of the Bible that inform the Christian view of the world. They have studied the ancient creeds and how they summarize the Bible. But what would the right confirmation questions be? What would the right "mastery" questions be for understanding, and again what would the right questions be for beginning the walk of adult membership?
Some good material is already covered in the existing confirmation service. The youths who are becoming full adult members are asked, "Do you believe in God the Father?" and respond with the first article of the Nicene Creed. They are asked again about Jesus and the Holy Spirit, responding with the second and third articles of the creed. They are asked to consciously and deliberately reject evil, to pledge to follow the Christian faith, to pledge to participate in a congregation of believers throughout their lives. It's plain that careful thought has been given to how they are received as adults into the congregation.
Still, I like the orders of worship that follow Scripture closely. So if some key questions in Scripture had been reworked into a liturgy, they might go like this:
Q: Tell me today: whom will you serve?
A: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Q: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
A. To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Q: Jesus asks, who do you say that I am?
A: You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
Q. What is the reason for your hope?
A. Christ is risen from the dead.
As with many of my liturgy projects, this is a beginning. It's more to consider possible directions than a finished piece, at this point.