When I “graduated” from kindergarten, there was a little ceremony in our classroom. I remember that my mother meticulously parted my hair and slicked it back with hair gel for the occasion. My father left his office to come see me that morning. At the ceremony, every graduating kindergartner was asked the same question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
When I was asked that question, I answered: “I want to be a banker when I grow up, just like my Daddy.” A few years later, I thought that the teenagers who sacked groceries had the dream job. As an older boy, I wanted to be an architect or engineer. However, I took high school physics and that dream went out the window. Finally, I went to the University of Texas to become an accountant - before God had something else in mind for me.
In Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, he writes that “we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (4:15).” This growing up into a mature Christian, is called “Christian Formation.”
In our Episcopal Diocese of Texas, we are going to hear a lot more about Christian Formation. Our Bishop, Andy Doyle, has recently appointed a Canon, a top-ranking official in the diocese, in the role of: Canon for Lifelong Christian Formation. The new Canon for Lifelong Christian Formation is John Newton. You might remember John as the preacher at Jimmy’s ordination. Bishop Doyle and Canon Newton are re-asking the question of all of us: What do you want to be when you grow up? And the answer needs to be that we want to grow up to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Likewise, at St. Alban’s, Jimmy and I are also renewing our emphasis on Lifelong Christian Formation. Beginning this month, we are stepping back and looking at how people at St. Alban’s are being formed, of all ages. From infants in our nursery, to children, to youth, to young adults, to families, to singles, to empty-nesters, to senior adults – we need to make sure that everyone at St. Alban’s is receiving the tools to grow up into Christ.
The reason why I am so committed to Christian Formation is because I see people in our society being formed into things other than committed followers of Jesus. I see children who are being formed into excellent violin players; yet don’t know who Moses is. I see youth who are being formed into top wide receivers; yet have not experienced the richness of the Nicene Creed. I see adults who are being formed into “good citizens;” yet can’t articulate their faith in one clear sentence. I see senior adults who are being formed into pleasant retirees; yet have difficulty navigating through their Bibles.
As your spiritual leader, I am committed to Lifelong Christian Formation. The question for you is:
What do you want to be when you grow up?