August 30, 2009
A Church is Born! – Part II
When Pastor Ries is done preaching he asks the young people to come forward. Ten females and two males step up to the altar and make a semi-circle around the alter area. Since it is all in Spanish, as the pastor speaks to the confirmands, I imagine the words of the many confirmation services I have attended: “Beloved in the Lords, our Lord Jesus Christ said to His apostles: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” And I can recall the questions asked of confirmands: “Do you renounce the devil? Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty? “
Here in Palmar Arriba, each confirmand took the microphone, read their chosen verse out of the Bible (one girl had her verse memorized) and then turned and knelt before the pastor. There were twelve confirmands and each one read his verse, knelt, and the pastor laid his hand on their head as he spoke a blessing in Spanish. I suspect he said something similar to what my husband says each time he places his hand on a confirmand: (Joseph/Sarah), the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has give you the new birth of water and of the Spirit and has forgiven you all your sins, strengthen you with His grace to life everlasting.
After each person had been confirmed and blessed, the newly confirmed remained in their semi-circle and held hands. It is a picture I will not forget for a long time. These young people, baptized into Christ, stood together confirming their Lutheran faith, and united as the first congregation in the Dominican Republic. No longer did we have a mission site….here was a congregation.
After the confirmation and prayers, the congregation took another step united together by participating in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together. We had all been united together through the waters of Holy Baptism as children of God and now we were united together, along with all the saints of heaven, in Holy Communion. The Americans stood behind the confirmands and put our hand on their shoulder as they took communion. Then they stood behind us and placed their hand on our shoulders as we took communion. Together we were united with Christ in His body and blood.
One more enthusiastic hymn and then it was chaos! Gifts were shared, everyone hugged everyone, pictures and more pictures. It was a grand day in the Dominican! Watch the confirmation video on Youtube.
Now my question to you….What’s the best advice you could give to these new confirmands? I want to hear from you.