At the heart of the Confirmation service is a simple but moving dialogue. The candidate says to the Bishop, ‘My name is…’ and the Bishop replies using the candidate’s name, ‘God has called you by name and made you his own’. An affirmation by the candidate and the Bishop of the unique identity of each individual as one created, know, loved and valued by God. This relationship is then sealed in the act of confirmation as the Bishop places her or his hands on the head of the candidate and confirms them with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
As Bishop Rachel wrote in the last Bulletin, these last few months have indeed been ones in which people have been pondering their identity, the nature of who we are and what we are called to be, set in the wider context not just of us as individuals but the vocation and calling of the Church and the purpose of creation. The pandemic has been a wake up call for us to take a long hard look at ourselves, our Church and our world all of which are rooted in our relationship with our creator.
Bishop Rachel and I are very much looking forward to resuming confirmation services this autumn. They will of course be different in style, simpler, and with limited numbers but their essence of course is unchanged with perhaps a greater clarity for that simplicity, that affirmation of who we are, our value and purpose, our confidence and hope in an uncertain world. We have already been in touch with all those who we knew were expecting to present candidates but the invitation to Conformation is of course, as always, one that is open to all.
This month, where the pace is, I hope, a little slower, with a little more time to reflect, there is the opportunity to ponder this invitation, to know it for ourselves and to be ready to share it with those who long to hear it, the extraordinary truth that God has called each one of us by name, and we have indeed been made God’s own people.
With Bishop Rachel I continue to give thanks the clergy, people and communities of this Diocese and for the privilege of sharing in ministry with you.
(A message from the Bulletin the week of 17 August)