A Confirmation Conversation
If you've hung around here long enough, you know that we recently became Anglican. This journey has been deeply meaningful and spiritually rich. We are learning a lot and growing deeper in our faith in Jesus.
On Saturday, June 3rd, 2017, the Trams received Confirmation into the Anglican Communion. This was an impacting experience, and we left feeling very grateful for the family that we've found in our new parish, but also for the continued grace of God in our lives. However, with this event (and the requisite posts on Facebook and Instagram), there came a number of questions from people not entirely familiar with this tradition, questions like -
"But what does this mean? You're a member? Set apart for particular service? How do these steps of the journey unfold?"
And those are really fair questions - those and more. So, in this post, I will make an attempt to answer these questions in an ordered, and accessible way. If you have any questions, feel free to send an email, or leave a comment below.
Firstly, I'll say that this journey is a bit flexible, so it will unfold differently for different people at different ages in different places in different contexts. Your journey will look a bit different than mine, but in the end, we'll (most likely) stop at all the same places along the way.
That being said, Confirmation is a lot of things (sort of a sacramental grab-bag, or catch-all, haha) -
- Confirmation is my way of affirming my faith in Christ, as proclaimed by the One Holy catholic and apostolic Church
- Confirmation is my way of placing myself under the authority of the Church, and particularly under the authority of the Bishop who confirms as a representative of Christ and His Body, the Church.
- Confirmation is the Bishop, and by extension the Church catholic, confirming my faith in Christ, and the conformity of that faith with the ancient, fundamental, catholic doctrines of the faith.
- Confirmation is "the ordination of the laity". In Confirmation, hands are laid on the Confirmand (the person being confirmed) by the Bishop, who in turn was ordained with the laying on of hands by Bishops, who were ordained by Bishops, who were ordained by Bishops going all the way back to Christ and the Apostles -- that's very cool.
- In Confirmation, the Confirmand is anointed with oil called "chrism" which has been blessed by the Bishop, and he or she is prayed over, that the Holy Spirit might bestow on the Confirmand spiritual gifts, strengthen spiritual gifts already in place, or "stir up" the work and gifts of the Holy Spirit in that person's life.
- By virtue of that prayer, and with the understanding that Confirmation is the ordination of the laity, the Confirmand is set apart for ministry to, in, and with the Church.
Another thing worth noting is that Confirmation is closely connected to Baptism. It was originally all part of the same event - a person was baptized, chrismated, and confirmed all in the same go (and this is still the way it is practiced in the Eastern Orthodox Church). In the West, Confirmation has sort of accidentally (or out of necessity) moved away from Baptism for a couple of possible reasons -
- Any baptized believer can baptize a new believer - that's awesome - but only a Bishop can confirm, because the Bishop is sort of the gatekeeper of the church. He (with the other Bishops) helps to define normative faith, practice, order, and doctrine, and thus says who conforms to that or not on behalf of the church. [This is, of course, done with the cooperation of the priest of the originating parish, as the priest will no-doubt know the Confirmand better than the Bishop will. The priest recommends the Confirmand for Confirmation...]
- As time went on, especially during the age of Christendom (the close and sometimes unhealthy intertwining of the Church and politics), almost everyone in the Western World was a Christian, at least in name. So the only people being baptized were infants. Those individuals needed a way to affirm their faith as adults, to "make it their own" as we often say today.
- As the Church grew, geographically, it became increasingly difficult for the Bishops to be in individual parishes with great regularity. This meant that Confirmations would have to wait until he came through. Over time, things just became regimented, as they often do, until children, who had been baptized as infants, were confirmed as they become old enough to have been taught about the faith (catechized), and could articulate it for themselves.
So...that's all the things (actually there could be more, I'm new to this... but that's all the things as I understand them at this point)! Again, if you have any questions, shoot us an email, or leave a comment below. Also, if you want to learn more, or hear a bit of our story, check out ep. 009 of THE TRAMCAST. I got a chance to sit down and talk to my pastor and friend, Father Ryan Jones about these very things.