As we finally get a taste of the change of seasons, I am reminded that so much of our lives are times of transition. We go to college or graduate school. We graduate. We get a new job or leave a job. We change careers or retire. We marry or divorce. We buy a house or sell a precious family home. We become parents or struggle to become parents. We accompany children or our parents through transitions that become our own; we get a diagnosis or become a caretaker. We grieve a loss or are surprised by the joy of new relationship. No matter the change in our lives, be it the ones that fill us with joy or the challenges we wish we never had to face, the good news is this: No matter the shifting ground under our feet, God is our rock, our strong fortress, our home. God abides in us, and we abide in God.
One way we love each other is by marking the changes in our lives with a ritual, as we will do this Sunday evening at our confirmation service. At 6:00 pm, twenty youth confirmands and fifteen adult confirmands will make a public affirmation of their faith in a ritual that marks a transition in their faith journey. Those who were baptized at an early age had parents and godparents who took vows on their behalf and made promises in their own names to “be responsible for seeing that the child ... is brought up in the Christian faith and life” and to help the child “grow into the full stature of Christ.”
As the youth confirmands now take a step in claiming the faith as their own, we as the body of Christ continue to embrace them and promise to continue the journey with them into high school and beyond. As they make a public proclamation of faith, we reaffirm our vows to them. “We will!” we’ve said, and we will say it again on Sunday. We will “do all in [our] power to support these persons in their life in Christ.”
Through rituals, we tell one another that we support each other in our times of transition, that we are not alone in our joy or our sorrow. As a faith community we are called to surround each other in these times of change.
It is in that spirit, and as Simon makes his way back from England, that I share the news that Hope Westervelt, Director of Youth Ministries, has let us know that she has accepted a position as youth director at her home church in Macon, Georgia, where Hope, Brian and Davis will be close to parents and grandparents. Hope’s last day will be Sunday, November 12th. Join me in thanking Hope for her service among us and in praying for her family during this time of transition. Please see a note from Hope below.
In her two years with us, Hope has engaged our youth during Sunday morning formation, Sunday Night Live (SNL) and Attic Invasion, on pilgrimages, mission trips and beach retreats. All of these programs mark the ongoing commitment we have to our youth. They remain strong because we, as an All Saints’ community, have responded with one loud voice, “We will!”
From committed Sunday school teachers, to our interns Luke and Elizabeth, who are excited to continue in their roles and remain in relationship with the youth during this time of transition, to the parents and mentors who bring food, help lead trips and hang out with youth at parish gatherings, we as a community will continue to lift up our youth and wrap our arms around them. For, in doing so, we live out our own baptismal covenant and respond to God’s great love.