The Rite of Confirmation
Posted: October 06, 2016
2016 Event details: Saturday, Oct. 29 at 11:00 am or 1:15 pm or Saturday, Nov. 5 at 11:00 am.
All are invited! More info for students and parents.
Article by Katie Strand, Youth Director
The Rite of Confirmation is a significant milestone for youth at Shepherd of the Valley, typically made in the fall of 10th Grade. Students prepare for this day throughout four years of Confirmation education and small group meetings, creating “My Life and Faith” projects and sharing one-on-one conversation with a Pastor or Youth Director.
To celebrate this special occasion, we dress young adults in white robes, take pictures, and encourage them to invite family and friends - many families throw parties, give gifts, and eat cake. Sounds like a graduation, doesn't it? But this rite of passage is quite different: we celebrate the faithfulness of God over the accomplishments of individuals; instead of marking the “closing of a chapter” in the lives of our young adults, we lift up the past as a foundation and a springboard into an exciting future life of faith.
For everyone assembled to witness this Affirmation of Baptism, it is also an opportunity to remember our own baptisms - that is to re-member, an act deeper than recalling the date, time, and place when a pastor splashed water on our heads. We receive again the unconditional promises of God for us, and are reconnected with our deepest identity: Child of God.
Below, I've described the four parts to this worship service in detail. Please take a moment to reflect on your own baptism, and know that you are invited to attend this year’s services, whether you have know a young person in this year’s class or not. Many people have described the Rite of Confirmation as “the best worship service of the year.”
Part 1: Remember the Covenant God made with us
The service begins by saying “thank you God!” for the young adults gathered to affirm their baptism, and for all the ways God has been at work in their lives from the beginning: drawing them close; giving them unique gifts and talents; and surrounding and strengthening them with the encouragement of family, friends, baptismal sponsors, and the community of faith.
Part 2: Profess what we believe: reject sin and evil, recite the Apostles’ Creed
Parents and grandparents may share (terrifying) stories of their Confirmation—having to recite the entire Small Catechism from memory, or being given an oral exam in front of the entire congregation. At Shepherd of the Valley, we put less emphasis on memorization and public speaking. In preparation for their profession of faith, confirmands are asked to reflect on what they believe, and why they believe it. Who has modeled their faith, and who has impacted how they understand and relate to God? What stories from the Bible or life events have helped them see God more clearly - and when has it seemed that God was hidden or far away? Where do they feel the presence of God most strongly?
Part 3: Promise to continue the journey of faith
In this part of the service, confirmands stand before family, friends, and community to say "yes" - individually and (we hope) enthusiastically - to God's invitation to continue in the covenant that was made in their baptism. There are several intentions outlined in this promise: to continue to invest in the community of faith, seek nourishment for their relationship with God, share the radical love of Jesus through words and actions, and utilize their gifts to make the world a more just and peaceful place.
Part 4: Prayer and Blessing
As the service continues, the full name of each confirmand is read, along with a Bible verse they have chosen, and they come forward individually. Pastors, family members, and other important people lay hands on the head of the kneeling confirmand. It is wonderful to witness the circle of faith and love that surrounds each young man and woman. And it is powerful to know that in addition to those physically present for a confirmand, there are so many others who have gone before or who cannot be here on this day, whose spirits and legacies of love and faith are alive in each beautiful child of God.