"In the course of their Christian development, those baptized...are expected...to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop." - Book of Common Prayer (page 412).
The sacrament of confirmation has endured some criticism in recent generations. It continues to be a meaningful affirmation of faith and connection to the broader church for many. As we begin our confirmation classes once again, I am reminded that it is paired with reception and reaffirmation as well. This bears some explanation, more than we are able to offer in the course of the rite itself.
Each of these are a public affirmation of faith. The particulars of each depend largely upon one's personal history. Baptism precedes each, as a rite that is shared with all of Christendom. Baptism is a declaration of God's saving grace in our lives. Confirmation is an affirmation of the baptismal promises. Further, it is a way of showing that one intends to live out their faith in a particular denomination. Ascension maintains a tradition that requires persons to be confirmed in order to serve on vestry as well
Reception applies to those who have been confirmed in another denomination. Often someone has been confirmed in the tradition they were raised. Just as we do not re-baptize those who have been baptized in the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; so too we honor prior confirmation by receiving those who have already received this sacrament. Most often those being received have attended the same preparation as those being confirmed, as a continuation of their formation and study of our particular denomination.
Reaffirmation then is an opportunity for those who have been confirmed to publicly reaffirm this decision. While all present at a baptism or confirmation will renew their commitment and say the Baptismal Covenant, the reaffirmation is a bit more involved. At times, a reaffirmation follows a time when one has been absent from the church, or even placed themselves a part from God. At times, it is done to acknowledge a spiritual development in one's life. Perhaps it is something we should all consider from time to time, a public reaffirmation of the commitment we have made to God and one another as a body of faithful disciples.
If you are interested in participating in any of these rites, please let me know. While our confirmation classes are underway, I welcome the conversation and possibility of your participation, now and in the future.