Saturday, September 6, 2014

Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows

Our Diocesan Bishop, the Right Rev. Andrew Dietsche, will be coming to Zion on October 26th to confirm, receive, and reaffirm the baptismal vows of anyone who desires this renewed commitment to Christ in our community.  I encourage all of us to consider what this step means.  According to our Book of Common Prayer,
* Confirmation is the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop. In addition,
* It is required of those to be confirmed that they have been baptized, are sufficiently instructed in the Christian Faith, are penitent for their sins, and are ready to affirm their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
    Theoretically, we are all “sufficiently instructed” and are penitent and ready, at a moment’s notice, to receive the Bishop’s Confirmation blessing.  However, I enjoy teaching Confirmation Class so much that I am asking all interested parishioners to come to a 6-week class, on Wednesday evenings from 7pm to 8:15pm beginning on September 17th in the Rectory Conference room.
    So, what is Reception and who is eligible?  Anyone who has come to Zion from a different Christian denomination (like Lutheran, Baptist, or Methodist) or from the Catholic or Orthodox Church (the latter two groups do not consider themselves to be a “denomination” at all, but each considers itself the original, or True Church). 
    And, what is Reaffirmation?  This is just what it sounds like - any of us who have already been baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church, but would like to reaffirm that commitment in a public and meaningful way should take the class and receive the laying on of hands.
    Why is this an important step? Most of us were baptized and confirmed at a young age and have forgotten, or never knew, the reasons why Episcopalians do the strange things that we do.  If you ever wondered why our service is similar to the Roman Catholic service; or why some of us cross ourselves and some don’t; or why we say the Creeds; or what the word, “Episcopalian” really means; or what the seven types of prayer are and why we use them every week in our Holy Eucharist, etc, etc, then you would benefit from taking this class.  You would also find consolation, encouragement and joy from kneeling at the rail and receiving the Bishop’s hands on your head, as he says, “May the Holy Spirit, who has begun a good work in you, direct and uphold you in the service of Christ and his kingdom. Amen.”  And, of course, there will be celebrating and congratulations and cake.

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