Last Sunday was confirmation Sunday at my church. Eight ninth-graders wore white gowns, representing baptism, and red stoles, representing the Holy Spirit, to mark the completion of two years of study and service. They each spoke a few minutes about their understanding of faith and what it means to be a Christian and then received some gifts: salt (be salt of the earth), a candle (shine your light), a cross, and a small slim leather Bible engraved with their name. Those of us in the pews gushed from pride and joy even if they weren’t our children because they are our children.
Our pastor said that confirmation and graduation seem like similar events but in fact they’re quite different: a graduation implies an end of something, whereas confirmation is about beginning. He said that the beginning marked by confirmation is that of taking on a new role. The young adults clothed in white and hugged in red now take on the primary responsibility for their own faith development. The church is here, parents are here, teachers are here, but the journey of faith is one's own.
A bonus in being present for a ceremony or sacrament, in addition to being part of the event involving people you care about – be it a wedding, funeral, baptism, graduation, or confirmation – is that we ourselves get to enter into that space where transactions are made, commitments are offered, hope is claimed. Quietly and passively but with as much inner and hidden, active agency as we wish, we get to engage with the life passage marked by the ceremony or sacrament. Yes, I do, till death do us part; let not my heart be troubled; please grace, flow; beginning again, I intend to grow.
[Photo: taken of a full nest safe inside a hanging basket outside my front door several years ago.]