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 is an important rite in our church. Not only does it create an opportunity for a profession of faith, but it also connects us with the wider church since it requires a Bishop. Rightly, it is paired with reception and reaffirmation. This bears some explanation, more than we are able to offer in the course of the rite itself. Each of these rites is a public affirmation of faith. The particulars depend largely upon one's personal history. Baptism precedes confirmation, reception, and reaffirmation as a rite that is shared with all of Christendom. While baptism is a declaration of God's saving grace in our lives, confirmation is an affirmation of the baptismal promises. Further, confirmation is a way of showing that we intend to live out our faith in a particular denomination. Ascension maintains a tradition that requires persons to be confirmed in order to serve as members of our vestry. Reception applies to those who have been confirmed in another denomination, such as the tradition in which they were raised. Just as we recognize and accept 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 recommit to 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. Sometimes a reaffirmation follows a time when one has been absent from the church or even placed themselves apart from God. At other times, it is done to acknowledge a spiritual development in one's life. Perhaps we all should consider a public reaffirmation of the commitment we have made to God and one another as a body of faithful disciples. We will offer confirmation classes and information on being received or reaffirmed in the next few weeks. If you are interested in participating in any of these rites, please let me know. As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. You all will be in my prayers as you discern where God is calling you.