Last Sunday – Trinity Sunday – was the Patronal Festival for our congregation at Holy Trinity, Dunfermline. But more important than just the 125th Anniversary was the Confirmation Service and a church full … Lots of people, a great diversity of age groups and many children.
I read a comment recently to the effect that the current members of our College of Bishops are ‘positive about Confirmation’ or something similar. I certainly see it like that. Confirmation as a ‘rite of passage’ has been fading – although I think that there is real value in focusing the minds and hearts of young people on Christian faith at critical moments in their growth. So we have some of that – but also more of adults to come at all sorts of times in their lives to make a fresh commitment of faith.
Commitment is not as obvious today as it was formerly. All sorts of organisations find that – political parties and voluntary organisations all find it hard to get people to ‘sign up’. I used to say that it was a challenge of congregational life to help people to move from being ‘welcome visitors’ to being ‘members of the family’. Confirmation – which we sometimes call the ‘Affirmation of Baptismal Vows’ – provides an opportunity for people who have found themselves on a journey of faith to make a specific commitment. I think that is helpful to them and encouraging for the congregation – and it is a real pleasure and privilege for me to be part of it.