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News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 4 Winter 2007

On the road to Confirmation

the laying on of hands

When the Rt Revd John Waine recently talked in St Marys about his own confirmation he remembered that it had set him on the path to ordination. The occasion was special and even at the tender age of 14 it confirmed his faith "and my sense of vocation."

Some time before this about 1500 years to be precise the early Christians took the bold step of confirming their faith when they submitted themselves to the laying on of hands by the Apostles. These were the first such rites and as Bishop John explained it drew a distinction between baptism "taking the plunge" and confirmation, going on to make a public confirmation that we are part of the Christian Church.

According to our Rector Kevan, this autumns latest intake of confirmation candidates at St Marys will be embarking on a journey, a pilgrimage of faith which is part of every believers efforts to develop a personal relationship with God. When they come to be confirmed in January, they will take part in a service where everyone does some public confirming: they as the candidates, the congregation as fellow Christians and the bishop who confirms this next important stage in the journey after baptism by the laying of hands.

Anyone preparing for confirmation as the current candidates have started to do, will look at and discuss the major stages of Christs journey: conception, birth, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. Candidates will attend weekly classes and Kevan reports that many will carry on attending the classes even after they have been confirmed. In addition to looking at important points of the Christian compass, the classes are also an opportunity to examine the whole question of faith, differences in emphasis and of course the journey.

Both Bishop John and Kevan make the point that confirmation, one of the seven sacraments of the Anglican Communion, confirms the presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus we have a following on from baptism in water and can look to the biblical analogy of the Spirit descending as Christ came out of the water after his own baptism. The presence of the Spirit is confirmed and we can get on with the rest of our journey.