Vivi and I just got back from a three and a half day trip to Jylland, a northern city in Denmark. Her sister and her sister’s husband live there. We had been invited to their son’s confirmation as a believer in Jesus Christ and as a new member of the state church of Denmark.
It is a tradition in Denmark, a rite of passage for the youth (ages 13-14 generally) and it is an opportunity for the community of believers to draw neigh. There is as much fanfare associated with it as there is for graduations in the USA (and probably worldwide). The young person has a period of many weeks of formal study of the scriptures and the traditional songs of the Lutheran church; the youth are rehearsed, and they invite family and friends specifically. They youth dress for the occasion, boys in jackets and lies and girls in white dresses, often with lace. This year the kids all agreed to wear tennis shoes, so in addition to being traditional, they were a bit rebellious. Nice high tops–Converse–various colors.
Once inside the church, the minister greeted the entire congregation,who sat in assigned pews with their confirmatee. Then the two genders go up separately as a group. There were 33 in all 21 boys12 girls. They were called by name. Kneeling,each one confirmed his faith; each one was touch and the top of their heads and blessed, and they said the Lord’s prayer in unison. They also recited what I think was the Nicene Creed.
The neatest and most tender part to me was when the individual name was called, the specific family and friends stood up in witness to their support and their faith. Man–it started me to weep.
After an inspirational talk by the minister (pastor) and the gifting of a specifically colored set of wrist bands, the festivities were followed by formal and informal picture taking, greetings between family and friends, and a dinner and dance later. The youth also receive lots of cash in the congratulatory cards. It is as if they are starting out offically in life as a new adult, even banks send special offers for interest if the newly minted believer will also become a saver or customer by depositing those gifted funds in their care.
That gave me a lot to think about. About becoming part of another set of Christian traditions, about my beliefs, and about how the youth are nurtured here. It made me think of home, and I feel that I am home here or anywhere in the world as a child of God. I am just glad to stand with the witnesses when a child become a moral adult and takes on the mantle of belief.(Although my in-law nephew has some sorting to do-I spent quite a little time with him later discussing the presence of evil and the worship of Satan).
The Danes are deeply committed to the idea of the great Good. They have trouble with being manifestly apostolic,but this confirmation tradition is practiced all over their motherland, and to it I say amen. Here’s the Daily Word.
Divine Love eagerly welcomes me home.
Monday, May 19, 2014
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus told of a wayward son’s reunion with his father. The son had left home as a restless youth and frivolously spent his inheritance. When he returned to ask forgiveness, his father welcomed him home with great joy and celebration.
Like the young man in the story, I may have turned my attention away from God. But no matter how far I may have strayed, Divine Love always welcomes me home.
Through prayer, I reconnect with the presence of God. I feel the warm, comforting, unconditional love of my Creator. The riches of the kingdom are mine, and I am grateful. I am home, and I am at peace.
Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.—John 14:23