I am very happy on this day that our chief pastor, Bishop Daniel, is here with us to confirm eight very bright young people, and to receive one adult into the Episcopal Church. Confirmation is the sacramental moment when a baptized person expresses “a mature commitment to Christ,” and receives “strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop” (BCP, p. 860).
Older children, youth or adults (as appropriate) who were baptized as infants or children are expected to be confirmed after a period of preparation. This represents the choice of the person to take up for themselves the promises made for them by their parents and godparents at baptism. Those who were baptized as adults, but who did not receive the laying on of hands by a bishop are expected to be confirmed.
Preparation for confirmation includes giving the candidate the information and tools necessary to discover the meaning of Christian commitment in their own lives. This preparation includes instruction and reflection on Christian worship, faith, history, and practice with special attention given to the content of the baptismal covenant.
Confirmation or similar rites undertaken in other Christian traditions may be recognized as confirmation in the Episcopal Church. If an adult has made a public affirmation of faith in another sacramental denomination (such as Roman Catholicism), they may be received by a bishop in the Episcopal church (see BCP pages 309-310).
If a confirmed member of the church has undergone a renewal of their faith, or if they have come back to the church after a time away, they are invited to reaffirm their faith (see BCP pages 309-310).
Baptism (not Confirmation) is the rite of full admission into the Church, the body of Christ. If you are baptized, you are a Christian, and are invited by Christ to fully participate in the Church, the Church’s other sacraments, and into the Way of being a disciple of Jesus. Confirmation, reception, and reaffirmation all occur in continuity with baptism, and with reference to the Baptismal Covenant (BCP, pp. 304-305). In a very real sense, when you are confirmed, received, or make a reaffirmation, you are publicly expressing the fact that you understand, receive and sign-on to the Baptismal Covenant.
Please join me in congratulating those who are received and confirmed this day. It is a special day for our parish. Thanks be to God!