In recent weeks, I have invited members of the congregation to prayerfully consider being confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church when Bishop Hanley makes his Visitation on December 9
At its most basic, the Sacrament of Confirmation is the mature and considered embrace of promises that were made in your name at Baptism. Those promises constitute what we call The Baptismal Covenant, the “contract” between you and God that sets out a model for living that constitutes Christian living. . I suspect that some members of the congregation (especially adults) might be wondering, “Why should I bother? After all, isn’t Confirmation for children? I attend church on Sundays – isn’t that enough?”
True, it has been common[lace for a long time to confirm young people at age 13 or so (the age when it was felt that individuals reached the “age of reason”). But careful reading of the promises to be made make it clear that these commitments aren’t “kid’s stuff,” – that they call for a sober and considered decision about the way one chooses to live in the world.
Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of Gods?
Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?
Will you continue in the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers?
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
That’s a lot to ask of any individual, whether they are 13 or 30 (or 100!), and the questions deserve the most serious deliberation on the part of the one making the promises.
But then, we live in a world where we are being asked to make long term (often lifelong) promises about matters far less important. You sit behind the wheel of an automobile and promise to observe the motoring laws of the State of Oregon and your fidelity to observing those laws may ultimately determine your safety and those of others on the road. You sign a thirty year mortgage or identify with a political party or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. All of these involve promises made and all promises broken carry the possibility of lives damaged or destroyed.
Ours are times of tremendous instability, political, economic, and social. In such times, I can’t think of any commitments that have greater potential for widespread good than these.
And so I invite you all, once again, to claim this life for your own if you have not had the opportunity to do so already and to do it publicly in the company of the Family of Faith as we strive to live into this Covenant together.
Preparation for Confirmation or Reception will be held on Wednesday evenings in November following our 6:30 pm service of Holy Communion and Healing. Even if you have already been confirmed, you may wish to join us as a refresher. Inquirers are welcome. Questions are welcome. Doubts and uncertainties are welcome. Nervousness is both understood and assuaged.
THIS SUNDAY, October 14, we are excited to welcome the Shared Joy BRingers as we celebrate the Feast of our patron, Saint Luke. Luke was a Greek physician, frequently believed to be a Gentile, who lived in Antioch in ancient Syria. He is responsible for more than a quarter of all the writings in the New Testament. Critics over the century have praised Luke for his ability to describe with both accuracy and emotion, the lives of both Jesus and Paul while also describing some of the earliest issues faced by the fledgling church. He was a companion of Saint Paul who referred to him as “our dear friend Luke.” It is believed that Luke remained with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome until the time of Paul’s execution. There is a belief, stretching back to the 8th century, that Luke produced (or “wrote”) the first icon, providing him with a traditional description of him as an artist.
The monthly meeting of the Vestry will be held this Sunday, October 14, following our worship. At that meeting we will discuss, among other things, the invitation of the Diocese to apply for a grant to supplement the salary we are able to offer to a new Rector. Members of the congregation are always welcome to attend.
In the “This Made My Day” Department, I spent a good 45 minutes one morning this week talking with a member of the Christian Education Committee of a parish church in Delaware. It seems their Rector had heard about The Ark, our program of spiritual enrichment for children, and they wanted to know more about it. They were excited about a program that emphasized loving relationships as the core of Christian living and insisted that a congregation take seriously the promise made at a Baptism, “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support this person in their life in Christ?”
Delaware! Three thousand miles away! It seems that Paul was serious when he insisted that in Christ there is no East or West.