Looking like an ordination without robes and a baptism without water, confirmation is an intriguing mix of ceremonies. It involves those being confirmed saying things about faith and commitment which are similar if not the same as said at a baptism. But no water is involved. It involves the bishop laying her hands on the candidates and praying for the Spirit of God to strengthen them with “gifts of grace”. But no one is ordained as a deacon or priest – no one becomes a “Rev”!
In other words there are two sides to the coin of confirmation. On one side faith and commitment are confirmed through the candidates stating what they believe and what they will do as followers of Christ. On the other side the work of the God’s Spirit which was begun within the candidates at their baptism is confirmed through the bishop laying her hands on them. In each case, the profession of faith (e.g. 1 Timothy 6:12) and the laying on of hands (e.g. 2 Timothy 1:6) are ancient Christian actions which are carried on as a living tradition in the practice of our faith.
If that deals with the question of ‘What are we confirming in confirmation?’ what about the question, ‘Who is confirmed?’ The answer to that question is anyone who wishes to make a public profession of their faith and commitment to God and to be strengthened in God’s service through the laying on of hands by their bishop. Many then want to ask ‘What age can people be confirmed?’ Some churches confirm very young people. For several decades now the wisdom of our Anglican church is that we think young adulthood is the appropriate earliest age to be confirmed (without defining that to a specific number of years). Anyone of any age beyond that is most welcome for confirmation.
What do you think? That is three hundred or so words for a small article in a parish magazine.
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