Your confirmation day is supposed to be exciting. It’s important, it’s a big deal, it’s formative. It’s also the day that my pastor slapped me. On the face. In front of the whole congregation.
Yeah. You heard me.
My confirmation pastor was the best. He taught us from the Book of Concord, read to us in Latin and tried to teach us German, made us learn our Small Catechism, heard our confession, and actually cared whether or not we were retaining what he was explaining.
So when that fateful Sunday arrived, I was ready. I stood there next to my friends in my white confirmation robe, proud of my accomplishments and anxious to be able to receive the Lord’s Supper. My grandmother was there. My aunts and uncles and cousins were in the pew. My parents and my sisters looked on . . . as I got smacked in the face.
I heard it before I felt it: an echo that I’m fairly confident bounced off the church’s walls for at least five seconds. (Ok, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic. So maybe I was the only one who heard it. So maybe it wasn’t that loud at all.)
It stung. I looked at him, shocked, while flipping through my bulletin. Where was THIS fine print in the rite?!
He explained it to the congregation then, that this was an ancient practice, this slap of peace, a slap that marked us confirmands for the pain and the suffering we would endure from the world on behalf of Christ. It was beautiful really. It made complete sense.
And it hurt like heck.
So keep this in mind, you pastors out there. You want kids to remember their confirmation vows when they leave for college? You want them to recall why it’s important to haul themselves out of bed on Sunday to go to church? You want them to remember what you taught them?
I think you’ve got your answer.