Significance of Confirmation

By Rev. George Thompson | 2022-10-08 | 3 min read

When the novelist Madeleine L’engle gave birth to her first child, she described this as a “kairotic” event. Her reference is to a Greek word describing “sacred time,” or simply “the right time.” Some events in the lives of each of us are best described with this word. We remember some occurrence as having a value transcending ordinary time. Infant baptism is such an event. Even though the child will never remember their baptism, they are told about the moment in which their parents vowed to rear them in the spirit of Christ—telling the biblical stories of our heritage and nurturing them in divine love. Some Protestant traditions do not observe infant baptism but engage in the act of blessing the newly born, promising to guide this child in the way and grace of Jesus. 

In the traditions of most denominations, the entire church makes a similar promise. We United Methodists are asked by our pastor upon the baptism of each infant, “Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and include this child now before you in your care?” As a result of our affirmative response to this question, many of us teach in the elementary Sunday school classes. Each of our children learn in gradations about their inherited faith. But there comes a time in which an adolescent child will want to make this faith in the Lordship of Christ a personal affirmation, moving from an inherited faith to a personal affirmation. 

At First UMC, youth are given the chance to engage in such a personal proclamation before the entire congregation through the kairotic event of confirmation. We invite these emerging young adults, seventh grade and older, to participate in a nine-month summary-study of our beliefs, history, and mission. For several years now I have had the privilege of co-teaching this class with Pastor Keith. We conduct 32-36 Sunday sessions during the period of September to May. In addition, these youth are encouraged to participate in a concentrated week-end of “Winter Retreat” in which they are joined with many older growing disciples. Those who enter this class will be challenged to probe into theological issues—the nature of God, the identity of Christ, and the meaning of the Holy Spirit. They will individually be linked with an adult “prayer partner” of their own choosing. We shall examine the three components of the Hebrew scriptures—Pentateuch, the Prophets, and Writings. We shall become familiar with key elements of the Gospels and the epistles of Paul. We shall explore the historic adventures of the church during eight significant eras, examining such periods as the Medieval church and the Reformation. Of course, each confirmand will become familiar with the central components of our Wesleyan tradition, including the Quadrilateral and the Social Principles. 

This year Confirmation Sunday will occur on May 21st. No student is compelled to accept the faith of their heritage. Keith and I merely invite each of them to take that significant step of maturity. 

Even though we have started this process and curriculum, we invite additional youth who wish to participate, to join us each Sunday on the second floor of the educational building as we all prepare for the kairotic event of Confirmation.

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