What is confirmation?
Confirmation in the Church of England is, like baptism, an important Christian initiation and a sacrament of the church. It is an opportunity for those who have been baptised to affirm publicly their Christian faith and their membership of the Body of Christ, the universal church.
As many people are baptised when they are babies or as young children, it is a positive and conscious step as a disciple of Christ. Those who wish to be confirmed, but who have not been baptised, may be baptised at the same time as they are confirmed.
How do we prepare for confirmation?
Because confirmation is about affirming the Christian faith, it is usual for there to be some time for careful preparation and reflection for this service. There is no prescribed format for such preparation, but it will usually involve the opportunity for candidates to reflect on their faith in God, and what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.
Preparation classes enable those considering confirmation to ask questions, big or small, about Christianity, faith, and the church. It might be an opportunity to learn more about the Eucharist, or to ask challenging questions: what do we mean by “sin”; what is forgiveness; why there is suffering in a world that is created by an all loving God.
It might be a chance to look carefully at the words of the Lord’s prayer and ask what they mean… what are we praying when we pray the words that Jesus taught us to pray?
What is involved in the confirmation service?
Confirmation services in the Church of England are always conducted by a Bishop. I spoke to a Bishop recently who told me that conducting baptism and confirmations services was a favourite aspect of his role.
At the confirmation service, the Bishop prays for the candidates for confirmation and asks for them to be blessed by the Holy Spirit with these words
Almighty and ever-living God,
you have given these your servants new birth
in baptism by water and the Spirit,
and have forgiven them all their sins.
Let your Holy Spirit rest on them:
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding;
the Spirit of counsel and inward strength;
the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness;
and their delight be in the fear of the Lord.
Having said this prayer, the Bishop reminds each candidate of God’s knowledge and love for them as individuals and then lays their hands on the head of each candidate. In doing this they are asking for God to “confirm” the candidate through and with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a very powerful and moving moment in the service as the Bishop prays for God’s blessing on each person.
After this, the whole congregation prays for the candidates, again emphasising how we live as Christians as part of a much greater whole, blessed by the support, prayers and encouragement of each other.
Dulwich deanery confirmation service
There is a Dulwich deanery confirmation service planned for 19th June 2022. At St John’s, we will be holding confirmation preparation sessions in May and June 2022. If you would like to more about preparing for confirmation, or baptism together with confirmation, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would be delighted to welcome you and help you consider whether you would like to be confirmed.
For further information
You might also like to have a look at this very helpful resource on the Church of England website: https://www.churchofengland.org/life-events/confirmations/confirmation-faqs
The picture shows Nicolas Poussin's painting "Confirmation" from his Seven Sacraments series, which is on display at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh (wikiart).