What is this Confirmation Thing All About?
Last Sunday several members of our Restoration family were confirmed or received into the Anglican tradition! While it is a blessing to hear of God’s gracious working, confirmation may confuse those who did not grow up in a tradition which practiced confirmation and infant baptism. It is likely that many at Restoration come to our community with similar questions and I would like to try to break down why confirmation is good and helpful. While we as Anglicans believe that Christianity is far greater than Anglicanism, we also believe that the Anglican tradition offers a beautiful expression of the body of Christ into which a Christian will grow in the grace and knowledge of God.
Why be Confirmed if I am Already a Member at Restoration?
Being a member at Restoration is a great thing! We are blessed with a loving, godly, and diverse community. However, membership doth not an Anglican make. So what is the spiritual benefit to being Anglican? Becoming Anglican through confirmation/reception will benefit your life in Christ in at least three ways: we need tangible signs of God’s grace, we need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and your testimony will encourage other Christians.
God’s Sacramental Grace
God’s love often meets us in very tangible ways: a hug, an encouraging word, an unexpected kindness shown to us. God’s attributes and actions are often felt through very tangible, sacramental deeds upon which we look back as an outward sign of an inward spiritual grace. Two such sacraments were given by Christ in the Holy Scriptures: Holy Communion and Baptism (cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, no. 104). Although only two were mentioned in Scripture, the Anglican tradition has commonly included other Sacraments: confirmation, absolution, ordination, marriage, and the anointing of the sick (cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, no. 116). It is the Bishop’s joy as well as his Apostolic ministry to lay hands on Christians after their baptism and to pray for a daily increase of the Holy Spirit and empowerment for Christian service (2 Timothy 1:6-7; Acts 8:14-17; 19:6; cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, nos. 118-119). Confirmation and reception are tangible and outward signs of what God is doing spiritually within us. On days in which we feel overwhelmed, or as though we have failed in our tasks as a father, husband, wife, employee, etc., we can look back not only to our standing as a child of God, but to the moment when we professed our faith in Christ before His church and when the Bishop laid his hands on our head and prayed, “Almighty and everliving God, we ask you to strengthen this your servant for witness and ministry, through the power of your Holy Spirit. Daily increase in him/her the gift of your grace and the fruit of your Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Be Filled with the Spirit
Not only do we (in our frailty) need an outward sign of God’s grace, but the Scriptures also exhort us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). I imagine that we would all like to see the Holy Spirit at work more powerfully in our daily walk with Christ! Confirmation invites us to grow into the fullness of the Holy Spirit through the Anglican tradition more fully each and every day.
Stories of God’s Faithfulness
Finally, other Christians are blessed when they hear public testimony of God’s saving help. God uses the stories of redemption and restoration in our lives to awaken some out of their spiritual slumber and to encourage others who have grown weakened and frustrated by failed expectations. Those being received, confirmed, or reaffirming their baptismal vows are a testimony of the God who loves us and desires for us to experience His saving help and fulness of joy! Please continue to pray for those in our community who were confirmed or received last Sunday: Ryan Bettwy, Matt Hoppe, Becky Mohr, Dietrich Kuhlmann, Meredith Lloyd, and Michael Dodson. As you see these folks around Restoration, why don’t you ask them to share a bit of their story with you? It is so good to hear how God has brought us all along on our journeys.
Please note that this is a very abbreviated blog entry about confirmation and more information can be found in our Diocesan policy on Confirmation, Reception and Reaffirmation. Also note that the Anglican Church in North America has produced a catechism which can be downloaded here for free!