Alleluia! He is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
For many congregations, the time is drawing near when the bishop will make his or her annual visitation to confirm all those young people who have been preparing for confirmation. Classes were probably held during the Lenten season (or hopefully have been since September), so things are winding up. Perhaps those who were baptized at the Easter Vigil will be presented for confirmation, but most likely youth are finishing up their classes, writing their faith statements or letters to their bishop, and parents are planning the party to be held after the big event.
The Sunday after the rite of Confirmation is celebrated, most of those newly confirmed will be sleeping in, as well as their parents and siblings. The Sunday after a confirmation is often like the Sunday after Easter. “Low Sunday” in church-speak. Hopefully, they will be back in a few weeks, but as is the case in so many families, confirmation is one of those rituals that brings parents back to church to have their child “get done.” And for confirmation, that will mean they’ve been “signed, sealed, and delivered” into adulthood. Their rite of passage. Their graduation from faith formation. The parental responsibility of “bringing up their child in the Christian faith” has been accomplished.
For those who know me personally, you know I’m pretty passionate about this topic. Who (and how) we prepare youth for confirmation, and how we connect with parents about their role in this “mature decision” and lifelong commitment, is something I believe we (the Church = clergy, educators, vestries, parents, congregations) need to address. We need to have conversations about our own experiences and what we believe the role confirmation has in the life of today’s teens as well as what it means to a congregation. If we had a better understanding of why we feel the way we do about confirmation, I believe we would be “doing it” differently.
I felt so strongly about this, I invited a group of colleagues in the Episcopal Church to contribute to a book that was recently published. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century offers a historical perspective of how this rite came to be (liturgically, sacramentally, and theologically), essays from bishops, priests, scholars, and Christian formation leaders, and a discussion guide for small groups and congregations to share their own theology of confirmation.
I invite you to read the book (via print or for your e-reader). Join in the conversation – here or on the book’s Facebook page. In the coming week’s I’ll be posting some reactions and resources.