This week, the text invites us to go back to where we started. We can reclaim our initial acceptance of the faith, when we first said yes to Jesus, or first said it in public in the presence of the loving and supporting church family. Do you remember when you first heard this amazing, good news, heard it in a way that changed your life? Hold on to that moment, Paul says. Maybe this is the week to reaffirm that statement of faith. This could be done with creeds, or a renewal of membership vows. If there are those coming forward for membership, this might be an appropriate time to bring them forward and let them join as the whole body renews their commitment with them. Or maybe it is time for an altar call. Do they still do that these days? Yes, some do it regularly. But even those who don’t, today might be a day to dust off the practice. Give folks space to come forward and kneel as they renew their desire to be made into disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This need not be a highly emotional moment, but it might be for some. Give that space and provide support for those who may be struggling with their decision or a need to confess. It is a difficult line to walk between privacy and community support. Be present as much as possible and have a non-anxious presence that allows whatever responses need to be expressed or felt.
“I Have Decided” might be a song to refresh that first commitment Paul invites the Corinthians, and us, to remember. The Apostles Creed might spark those memories, or a more modern affirmation might help put words to those memories and beliefs. Maybe there is someone with a compelling faith story who could take the congregation on a journey of accepting the grace of a loving God and the impact it has made on life and the o-going support and struggle as they seek to stay on the path. If there is a confirmation class in process, now might be a good chance to let them report on progress: What are they learning or what is their journey like? It would remind the whole body to be praying for those engaged in that process.
This is not a nostalgia trip, but rather a way of gaining resources for continuing to move forward on the discipleship path. Neither is it a claim that our faith must be the same as it was when we first said yes, or at our confirmation. Paul doesn’t tell the Corinthians that they need to be just like they were at first. But rather that they and we hold firmly to the ground of our faith, the good news of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.