On 14th August 2016, my daughter Mia was confirmed into the Lutheran Church of Australia at St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Box Hill. As part of the confirmation service, all of the candidates presented their personal “faith statement” and a “faith project”. Here is Mia’s full statement of faith, followed by a video of her (abbreviated) statement before the congregation at St Paul’s and the video that she made as her faith project.
I’ve grown up in a very Christian family. My dad being Catholic and my mum Lutheran gave me a wider sense of the Christian community. My dad has worked for the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne for as long as I can remember. Occasionally he’d bring me along to things like Iftar diners and tea ceremonies that he was invited to as a part of his work. This meant that from a very young age I was not only aware of Christian traditions but those of other faiths as well. It seemed to me that beliefs were something children inherited from their parents, passed on like any family tradition.
My sibling, Mad, stopped coming to church when I was thirteen years old. This sparked a realisation that you are the only one in control of your own beliefs. Yes, my family might plant the seed of faith, but it is up to me to nurture and grow my faith into more than the stories I have been told as a child.
I went through a time of questioning where I took myself right back to the basics and asked myself: “Do I believe in God?” “Do I believe in Jesus?” “Do I believe in the Holy Spirit?”. When I confirmed that these were indeed my personal beliefs, I began to explore what being Christian would mean for me and my life, besides just going to church. This is when God truly became real to me.
God the Father is beyond understanding. I can never fully wrap my mind around how God has always and will always exist. “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
God our Father is intelligent and rational. Knowing more than any of us could learn in our lifetimes because he created everything there is to know about. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33)
God our Father is loving. Sacrificing his own Son for our sake. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. “(John 3:16)
It is both a great comfort and incredibly humbling, to know that such a great God looks out for me.
God the Son, became fully human in Jesus. With full human experience he carried our sins and bore our pain on the cross as a divine sacrifice. “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Jesus is a teacher. He explained what we couldn’t understand, so that we might use the knowledge to live as God intends. (See the many parables Jesus told to give us insight.)
Jesus is a healer. He reached out to those who suffer, not only through the miracle of physical healing but through spiritual renewal. “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralysed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (Luke 5:23-24)
Jesus brought us a second chance, he brought us new life through the forgiveness of sins. This amazing and painful sacrifice is a constant reminder to me of how eternal God’s love is.
God the Holy Spirit is our connection to both God the Son and God the Father. The Holy Spirit came after Jesus returned to heaven, and keeps the fire of our faith burning. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” (John 14:16)
The Holy Spirit is a guide. Helping us to guide others to faith, giving us gifts we need to spread the word. “Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” (Acts 2:7-8)
The Holy Spirit draws us into community. Together with the Holy Spirit we can become the body of Christ, each working to do what we were called to do. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
The Holy Spirit is the presence of God here amongst us, like a hand holding mine as I journey through a day.
As someone who suffers from anxiety, the hope and the reassurance that I have in Jesus Christ is invaluable. When those negative and unhelpful feelings well up inside of me I know I can turn to Jesus. I have on my bedside table a little cross stitch that says “Before you go to sleep give your troubles to God, he’ll be up all night anyway.”
I try to pray every night and I find great comfort in knowing that whatever troubles or anxieties I have, I will not have to carry them alone. My relationship with Jesus is formed on that knowledge that He is always with me and that his love is steadfast. I don’t have to double guess his motives or fear that I will be deemed unworthy, for the sacrifice He made for my sake makes everything clear.
I want my faith to be evident in all aspects of my life. I want people to see Jesus in my life, not only through me talking about God but through my actions. I do find that it is being around people with strong faith, who show it in both actions and words which strengthens my faith. I’d like to be able to do the same for those around me.
I find myself being self-conscious about my faith around others my age; in a time where most of them only think of the church as part of their most boring school class, or the thing their grandparents drag them to, or people desperate to brainwash them into attending services. I wish to overcome this self-consciousness and to be able to share what I believe with others without stopping myself from saying what I truly believe for fear of seeming “too Christian”.
My faith has brought so much joy to me. It connects me to family and friends as well as to my creator. I have been blessed to have grown up surrounded by faith, and to have had the opportunity to celebrate many Easters and Christmas’s at church as a part of this community. The people I have met here have provided me with an incredible support network that has supported me and will continue to support me on my faith journey.
At this stage of life when I am figuring myself out and finding where I fit in the world, my faith is the solid rock beneath my feet. With my faith in Jesus Christ comes the knowledge that I have a purpose and that everything about me is so for a reason. I don’t know about any of you, but that gives me the greatest feeling of wonder and awe.
Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”