Today marks three years since Jenny’s confirmation – happy confirmation day!
But do we actually know what confirmation is? For many it seems to have been ‘just what you do’ when you reach a certain age. Older members of your congregation may remember having to learn & recite a whole bunch of things.
So, what is confirmation? Confirmation is not something that exists in the Bible so this isn’t a Biblical study, it doesn’t happen in every denomination, so in this blog, I’m talking from the point of view of the Church of England, with a wee hint of my Baptist church upbringing.
Some background about me, as we attended a Baptist church whilst I was growing up, I was dedicated as a child rather than Christened (Baptists believe in believer’s baptism rather than infant baptism). I was then able to choose to get baptised, aged 18. There’s a pretty fun story about why I decided to get baptised involving prayer (obviously), and my Godson, but maybe I’ll share that another time.
For many people, who are Christened as a baby, Confirmation therefore acts as the opportunity for them to declare their faith for themselves, rather than their parents or godparents doing it on their behalf. However, as I’d been baptised as an adult, my baptism was my public declaration of faith. Confirmation didn’t need to play this role, but it did take on a number of other roles in my life:
A sending out
I was confirmed at 19, about 6 months before I got engaged and just over a year before I got married. Confirmation, to me, acted us my sending out in the “adult world”. During the service that we took part in, the Bishop talked a lot about sending us out into the world to be witnesses and disciples to other people.
As part of being sent out into this adult world, confirmation also represents a commitment. It’s a commitment to carry our faith into these “adult” parts of our lives – as we move out, move from education into work, start dealing with our own finances, begin committed relationships. We are committing that as we move into this world, our faith will play a significant role in all these elements of our lives. During the service, we recommit to our baptismal vows to reject evil, repent of our sins, submit to Christ as our Lord, and come to him as the way, the truth and the life.
Praying for the Holy Spirit
During the confirmation, the Bishop prays over each candidate in turn. He says “n, God has called you by name and made you his own”, and prays for the Holy Spirit to be with each candidate (they also tend to push down rather hard so make sure you’re not off-balance). They also pray for wisdom and understanding, counsel and inward strength, and knowledge and true godliness for each candidate too.
Whilst Baptism sees us declaring our faith in God, Confirmation takes us a step further, committing ourselves to worshipping and serving God. During the service we agree to: partaking in teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, prayer, resisting evil, confessing and repenting for our sins, proclaiming the good news of God in both word and example, serving Christ and one another, loving your neighbour as yourself, and acknowledging Christ’s authority over human society. Where as baptism focuses upon our faith bringing us into God’s family, and into the body of Christ, confirmation points us towards the active life of a committed Christian as we continue to walk in faith throughout our lives.
Confirmation also gives you the opportunity to appoint a sponsor. Similar to a godparent, a sponsor is someone who stands alongside you as a supporting friend, someone who can help and support you in your journey of faith. For me this was someone who had played a big part in the development of my faith up till this point, he was one of my sponsors for baptism, and he helped me to prepare for my confirmation too. I have a blog post here about the roles of godparents, which I would say apply just as much to sponsors.
If you would like to find out more about confirmation, head to the Church of England website here, then if you believe you would like to be confirmed, why not chat to your vicar?