September 15, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Tomorrow St. John’s is pleased to host the deanery confirmations. Stephen Voysey and I will be welcoming Bishop Alan Gates to lead the service. Our own George Lockwood will be among those being confirmed, the choir will be leading us in music, the bishop will be preaching, and the service will be glorious! All are welcome on September 16, at 10:30am.
When I was growing up confirmation meant that you could finally receive communion. I remember kneeling down at the altar rail next to a dozen other 13-year-olds at Christ Church, Andover in May of 1977, with skinny legs and a crooked skirt, to get my first taste of the sacrament. It was tasteless and melty, but I felt holy and a “part of the crowd” during communion in a way that I hadn’t when I had just received a blessing.
These days the Episcopal Church has gone back to the traditional practice of receiving communion after baptism, because baptism is a complete rite in and of itself. I tell the parents of newly baptized babies that I will hand out the bread to any chubby little baby hand that reaches for it. If you are baptized, you are fully a member of the Body of Christ and have no need of the sacrament of confirmation to prove it. Here at St. John’s we take it one step further and welcome anyone to receive communion who feels moved by the Holy Spirit. By virtue of having been created in the image of God, you are “part of the crowd” already. No one is outside the loving embrace of Christ.
The purpose of Confirmation isn’t to complete baptism, but to confirm that you agree with your baptism. It is a mature declaration of faith. It is saying “yes, I agree with the vows made on my behalf at my baptism. I am onboard with becoming an adult member of the church.” Vows like “I believe in God the Father,” “I turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as my Savior,” and “I will respect the dignity of every human being.”
Let us pray for all those to be confirmed tomorrow and, in doing so, remember our own affirmation of faith, vows to Jesus, and commitment to the Church.
You are very dear to me and to God in Christ.