I’m recovering today from a lively, wonderful, intensely busy weekend due to the Bishop’s visit and the nine people we confirmed. In the Episcopal Church the primary confirmation event takes place at baptism when the priest or bishop dips their thumb in holy oil, makes the sign of the cross on the forehead, and pronounces the person “marked” as Christ’s own forever. This action of baptism and confirmation in one ritual recreates the rite from the ancient church. Then, taking into consideration that confirmation has already happened, the church offers an rite for young people and adults, to make a profession of faith reaffirming the statements made on their behalf at baptism.
Although it is not required, I offered a “confirmation preparation” retreat. At this retreat I used a “journal” with questions intending to help us unpack the Baptismal Covenant. So, for example, we reflected on the nature of sin, evil, dignity, justice, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We also made communion bread from scratch, with each person bringing an ingredient and all of us participating in mixing, stirring, kneading, rolling, cutting, baking, and freezing the bread. Then we used the communion bread in the worship service yesterday. We also have enough bread, in the freezer, for all of our services through Jan. 1.
This retreat was a mixed generation group – 7 young people between the ages of 15 and 17, and two adult men in their 60’s (I’m guessing). I had a co-leader who is in his 30’s, or 40’s? And I am 54. In planning this retreat my co-leader and I thought it would be interesting to use a movie to spur our reflections – especially considering that some of the young people might not have real-life experience to draw on. So, we thought that using the movie “Crash” would get us there, with lots of examples that show sin, evil, dignity, integrity, loving our neighbor. It proved to be a good idea!
All of this was anchored in the Book of Common Prayer with a thorough review of what is in the BCP, and opportunities to use it to assist in our answers. We also went through the baptismal covenant and intentionally looked at the questions and response.
My hope through out the retreat was that those being confirmed would have an informed understanding of what they were really saying and confirming as their faith. I also hope that what we reflected on continues to shape and form and inform them every time we say the baptismal covenant.
It was delightful to host the bishop. He was really engaged with the people being confirmed – laid his hands upon their heads and looked them right in the eye as he said the prayer for confirmation. Following the service the bishop met with the vestry. We had lunch and a lively discussion. All in all, a good day.
Today I will enjoy a well earned day of rest. I intend to knit, walk the dogs, read, and do a little grocery shopping.How will you spend this day? Will you find time for rest this week and renewal? If so, what will you do?