Fulfill what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not fulfill it. - Ecclesiastes 5:4b-5
When do we take or make vows? Usually vows are reserved for special occasions when we pledge to keep very important promises: weddings, baptisms, confirmations, entering into special vocations or holding offices.
I think of this today because this is a confirmation year and next May some of our young people will make vows that reaffirm the Baptism that their parents gave them when they were too young to do it for themselves. Now, in very early adulthood, they begin the journey of making such decisions of their own accord.
I know that for many of my colleagues in ministry, Confirmation can be a frustration because it means the beginning of not seeing the kids any longer because Confirmation sometimes equates to “graduation” and once the kids no longer “have to be” in Sunday School they can disappear. I think we’ve all seen that happen in various churches. I know I have!
Yet, when our young people vow to become an adult member of The Church, what promises do we truly hope they will keep? Is it that they will become regular, worshiping members of the church? Is it that they will get involved and serve on Boards, Task Forces and Committees?
Or, is it that they will be a living, breathing testimony to the presence of God in their worlds by the way they care for the people in their world, the way in which they embody an Open and Affirming spirit and seek justice for “the least of these” in their midst? Is it that they live lives of discipleship and service in whatever ways they feel best called and equipped?
I’m sure many of us will say, “It’s both!” And yes, it is. Yet the heart of the vows of faith that we make, while certainly able to apply for communities of faith and houses of worship, also truly rest in the way in which we live our lives and are compassionate to those with whom we share this world. There are ways we do that ourselves, and ways we do that in community.
Whichever way it is realized - at church, at home, at work, at play - what matters is that the vows we make in faith are fulfilled.
Gracious God, give us the strength and the joy to fulfill the vows we make to ourselves, to each other, and to You.