LP will be confirmed next Sunday. Due to the itinerant nature of interim ministry, we were never in a place where she was the right age for the class offered, or where there were other right-aged students to form a class. Last year, I promised, wherever I received a call, she would be confirmed. Upon arriving at NYCC, I planned a Confirmation Class. But there hadn’t been one in many years (ten?), and it wasn’t on the radar of other families, and no one else expressed an interest in meeting twice a month for a class.
I remained determined to give her the opportunity to be confirmed, and I reorganized the plan to suit the unique student. LP suggested a possible mentor, who kindly agreed to be part of the process, and over the rest of the school year and into this summer, we met periodically. We talked about the Bible, and Church History (including reading and talking about primary source documents), and baptism and the United Church of Christ. We had conversations of depth. LP’s mentor thought up a unique service project, which the two of them undertook.
Saturday we had our last meeting. I got them started, with a look at some of the language in the Service of Confirmation, leading to a lengthy discussion of the different shades of meaning to “affirm” or “confirm.” I then wandered off to sit with the Prayer Shawl Knitters. From a distance I could hear their animated conversation. When I returned, LP’s mentor assured her one last time that this was not something she had to do; to be confirmed is her choice and her commitment.
She is ready to affirm her baptism.
Now I am planning a Confirmation service that is for one confirmand, and the one confirmand is my child, and my youngest child, and the third and last of my children I will confirm. It feels emotional, just as her baptism did, at what was clearly the oncoming end of my marriage to her father. It’s an ending in my parenting, and a rite of passage for LP that I hope will not prove an ending as it does for so many confirmands. I must admit I feel more pressure to plan this service just right, to acknowledge this is one young person and not a group without making it seem like a Festival of My Family instead of a service of worship. And I want to get the words right, to do justice to the gospel that asks in which the religious leaders question by what authority Jesus teaches, and to the epistle that guides us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12b-13, NRSV)
When you do a Google image search for Confirmation, you see a lot of bishops in full regalia (men, mostly) putting their big hands on the heads of young men and women. On Sunday, it will be a small hand on a dear head. The promises made by the mother sixteen years ago will be transmitted, ritually, to the daughter, both working out their salvation, working it out together.