Monday, July 10, 2006

Another word on Confirmation

I have run across a few other blog postings about Confirmation. Here is one from Thomas at "Without Authority." Without meaning to cut off the discussion on my previous post, I am reminded of how an earlier form of the Lutheran rite of confirmation supported my vision of confirmation as a way which the congregation (on behalf of the Church) and the individual Christian mutually affirm, support, and confirm their relationship.

The blessing of the confirmands in the current rite (per the Lutheran Book of Worship) has the pastor lay on hands and offer a prayer, referring to the confirmand in the third person:

Father in heaven, for Jesus' sake, stir up in (Name) the gift of your Holy Spirit: confirm her faith, guide her life, empower her in her serving, give her patience in suffering, and bring her to everlasting life.

It's OK, but it's kind of non-committal, it seems to me. Contrast that with the previous rite (in the Service Book and Hymnal -- which I cite here from memory, so it may not be word-for-word perfect, but it's close because I pray this prayer, turning it into a first-person petition, about 4 times a week). This pronounced as a blessing on each confirmand, accompanied by the laying on of hands:

The Father in heaven renew and increase in you the gift of the Holy Spirit, to your strengthening in faith, to your growth in grace, to your patience in suffering, and to the blessed hope of everlasting life.

That speaks, I think, to a view of confirmation as process, not end product (not a 'graduation' from church school -- or even church). "[R]enew and increase" speaks, certainly to sanctification.

The Church should endeavor to live out that vision.


Jim said...

My favorite is still the one that the Rt Rev Charles C J Carpenter used on me, back in 1957:

DEFEND, O Lord, this thy Child with thy heavenly grace; that he may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting kingdom. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I like that. Defend this child! Guard his faith! It has some immediacy to it that is urgent and heartfelt. Thanks.