Last weekend we were in the final preparation for our High School Confirmation service when I realized my hair wasn’t gonna make it. While I wasn’t dreading this particular side effect of chemotherapy, neither was I looking forward to going bald. Like most things in life, it was the lead-up to it that set my nerves on edge. I know a few of our Confirmands could relate.
While the Confirmation classes were fun and a safe way to explore faith while socializing with old and new friends, it’s daunting. Up till now, most kids haven’t had to think much about what it means to take responsibility for their religious and spiritual journey. Even diving in to big theological topics like creeds, professions of faith, where our true power comes from, and doubt, Confirmation classes can be fun and something everyone looks forward to (especially if the snacks are good!). But standing in front of a sanctuary full of people, your perhaps-still-shaky faith on full display – well that’s a different story. It sets your nerves on edge. It takes courage.
Which is where my bald head comes in.
I shed a few tears just thinking about the implications of being bald. With a full head of hair I can still pass for being normal (as normal as I’ve ever been!). But a bald woman walking around in public just screams, “I have cancer and I’m in chemotherapy treatment.” Cue the sad looks and wide berths at the grocery store. Where before I could control (control being one of my favorite things; God and I are working on that) who knows about my cancer, with a bald head, now everyone will know.
Which is where our Confirmation group comes back in.
Confirmation (like Baptism, Marriage, Ordination, and Communion) is a sacrament celebrated in the church. A sacrament is a sacred sign of one’s own individual spiritual journey. In the church we like to say it’s an outward expression of an inward grace. No one can see inside your soul to know the things you and God are working on; to know the places God is calling you; to know how God’s grace is at work in you and you alone. But the Sacraments are an outward sign that something important is happening on the inside. Taking part in the Sacraments of the church shows those around you that God’s energy is deep within you. God is present and at work – this is sacred ground.
Which brings me back to my bald head again.
I’ve decided to look at my (apparently well-shaped, I’ve been told) head as a kind of Sacrament; holy, sacred, and intentional. Rather than something to be ashamed of or self-conscious about, it is an outward expression of an inward grace. God is at work in me – healing me from cancer, yes; but also diving deeper and deeper within me, working this and all things in my life for good.
Each of us is on a journey of faith in life. It doesn’t end with Confirmation as most of us can attest. Confirmation is an opportunity to publicly declare our journey, and to join with Christians everywhere in our quest to understand what it means when Jesus says, “Follow me.” But it’s a lifetime journey, that’s for sure. Confirmation is the gift that keeps on giving as we continually commit to allowing that inward grace to flow. Where the journey leads is up to you and God.
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