Being ready to affirm our faith...
The journey of faith which begins with baptism develops in different ways for different people. Confirmation is a landmark on that journey and is the time when Christians affirm the faith which was declared on their behalf at baptism. In the past the ‘usual’ age for confirmation was around 11 – 14 years, but that has changed, partly due to the introduction of new practices surrounding children and communion, and increasingly it is adults who are being confirmed.
Confirmation does not mark the point at which we have overcome all doubts – no one would be confirmed if that were the case! – it marks the point at which we ‘affirm our faith in Jesus Christ.’ So the service begins with the Bishop asking the candidates – ‘Are you ready with your own mouth and from your own heart to affirm your faith in Jesus Christ?’ The word ‘faith’ here is very important – faith is not about certainty, it is about trust. Confirmation is about declaring trust in God, as expressed in the Bible and the creeds, and about our desire to follow Jesus. So it’s not about reaching a kind of belief threshold at which we are suddenly and perfectly Christian.
Adult baptism now tends to take place within the context of a service of confirmation – those to be baptised are then immediately confirmed along with all the other candidates. It is a wonderful and moving ceremony which builds up the whole life of the Church.
Services of confirmation are always conducted by a Bishop and candidates are drawn from neighbouring towns and villages to gather together to be confirmed.