Ministers Musings ………………………………. On Confirmation
It has finally arrived! Confirmation Day! A day of joyful celebration. A day of sacred commitment. A day when young people take their place among us as full members of Central United Church.
In the weeks leading up to this day, when I have chatted with folks about Confirmation, an air of confusion would often overtake the conversation. Since Confirmation classes for young people have not been conducted at Central in a very long time, that confusion is understandable. However, the Confirmation of young people has always been an important part of our tradition as a United Church.
Perhaps a wee bit of explanation here will help. In the United Church, infant baptism is the most common form of baptism we conduct. In a case such as this, parents request baptism for their little one, meet with a member of the clergy to discuss the matter and then bring their child to church to be baptized. At the time of the baptism, the parents make a statement of their faith and promise to raise their child in a Christian home. They also promise to bring their child to church so their little one can learn about their Christian heritage. When the child is baptized, he or she becomes a part of the world-wide Christian church. It is a ritual of blessing, believing and belonging.
The next step in the process is Confirmation. During their teen years, young people are invited to attend Confirmation classes offered by the church. It is a time of deeper learning about God and the ministry of Jesus. It is a time to explore their faith and to figure out if they truly want to be a Christian. And it is entirely their decision, independent of the wishes of their parents.
At the end of this deeper learning time, on Confirmation Day, young people stand before their community of faith and confirm the promises that were made to God by their parents 15 to 18 years earlier when they were baptized as an infant. But this time around, they make their own personal statement of faith. At the end of this sacred ritual, these young people then become full members of Central United. They have moved from membership in the world-wide Christian church into a specific faith community; in this case, Central. These young people take their place among us, standing as full members of the church, offering their gifts in whatever way they can to further the mission of the church.
One of the most important parts of any Confirmation ritual is a “laying on of hands.” The family and friends of the young person lay hands on the young person’s head and shoulders, conveying the blessing of God upon them. As well, it is a reminder that our ancestors in the faith are also present with us, reaching down through the ages, touching the spirit of the young person in a continuance of the Christian faith.
Step into this holy day with a sense of wonder and awe as our young people commit themselves to the ministry of Jesus.