Wednesday Word: Confirmation
“Confirmation is a significant transition moment within the household of God, a moment that both cannot be repeated and yet is always reaffirmed, not least of all in the Daily Offices and holy communion.” – Drew Nathaniel Keane, “A Reconsideration of the Continued Practice of Confirmation in the Episcopal Church,” Anglican Theological Review, Vol. 200, Number 2, p. 263
This Sunday we will welcome Bp. Chilton Knudsen to St. John's. She is our Assistant Bishop and, as part of her primary duties, focuses on western Maryland and small churches. She will be retiring at the end of this year, so this is one of her last official parish visitations.
Lots of things happen when a bishop officially visits a parish – meetings, inspections, conversations, and at the top of the list, Confirmations. We are blessed to have eleven people being Confirmed and one person being Received (that is, officially moving from the Roman Catholic church to the Episcopal church). It's going to be a big day with a big celebration, and I encourage everyone to attend.
Confirmation as we perform the rite is uniquely Anglican in that we have fully separated it from baptism and reserved it for the hands of a bishop. But I don't want to get into various understandings of what it is or isn't here. I want to, instead, focus on the above quote.
When we are Confirmed we reaffirm and agree with what happened at our (usually) infant baptism, and we promise to live into the baptismal vows often spoken for us. And while we are adopted into the household of God at our Baptism, it is at our Confirmation that we are given more rights and responsibilities as members of that household. As Keane said, it is a significant moment of transition, never repeated but constantly reaffirmed.
It's like getting your driver's license: you only get it once, but you are constantly improving/learning through every day driving.
The other aspect of Confirmation is that, by the laying on of hands by the bishop, the Confirmand is connected to the wider body of Christ through apostolic succession. Apostolic succession isn't just from Chilton to Sutton to Claggett to Seabury to Cranmer to Augustine to Gregory to Clement to Peter. It's also the recognition that we are connected to those very people, and each other, in a significant way.
This Sunday I invite you to attend the 10:15 service to be part of and witness this very important life event for twelve people of our family. If you can't attend, I invite you to pray for those being Confirmed that they will be led by the Holy Spirit into the knowledge and obedience of God's holy word.
And for those who will experience the laying on of hands by the bishop, know that this isn't the culmination of all those Confirmation classes but, like a wedding, ordination, or getting your driver's license, it is only the beginning.
May you continue to grow in God's wisdom and grace, and increase daily with the power of the Holy Spirit.