Rev'd Charles - June 2018

posted 12 Jul 2018, 01:33 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

Empowered to Serve 

 Sunday June 10th at 11am at St Leonard the Less, Samlesbury will undoubtedly be a very special day for everyone who is present. That’s because  this is the day when we will be welcoming the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev Philip North who will be presiding at a Service of Confirmation, and we hope as many as possible from our three churches will be there to support the candidates and to welcome him. But what is confirmation and how did it begin? 

 Well, like many things it has a long and complex history! In the Bible children and adults were welcomed into the faith either through circumcision in the Old Testament (Genesis 17) or baptism in the New (Acts 8:26 – 40, 16: 11 – 34). Then, around 200 AD the practice arose of always following baptism with either the laying on of hands or anointing with oil, called ‘confirming’. 

 However, in the early Middle Ages, dioceses began to grow so that the bishop could not baptise and ‘confirm’ everybody, with the result that in time most of the baptising was done by his priests, who anointed the baptised with oil he had annually consecrated, as “confirmation”. 

 Then during the 8th and 9th centuries, the Bishops of the Western Church began to travel round their diocese, laying hands on children of “years of discretion” (that is of about 11 years or upwards) and praying that they might be strengthened ( Con – firmed) with the Holy Spirit. 

 At the Reformation in the 16th century however, the reformers abolished the ceremony of “confirming” by anointing with oil, but retained the baptism of infants and the Medieval rite of “confirmation” as a strengthening with prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12 : 1 -11, Romans 12 : 4 -8). Now, the intention was to encourage those being confirmed to take on them selves the vows which had previously been made for them in baptism by their parents and godparents when they were infants. So what is its relevance for us today? 

 Well, for some it gives the opportunity perhaps for the very first time to publicly profess their personal faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10: 9 – 13) which then enables them to share in the Communion Service which is the privilege of all who belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 11 : 23 – 28). For others, it provides an opportunity for learning more about their faith strengthened by the prayers of the Bishop. Whoever we are it is an important reminder of Jesus final words to his disciples when he said “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go then to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always even until the end of the world” (Matthew 27:16 – 20). 

 That is why the Confirmation Prayer can be our prayer that we can also say:

“O Lord and heavenly Father, you are calling us to give you a lifetime of service and to receive your strength through confirmation. Open our hearts to receive all that you want to give, so that in lives made strong by your Holy Spirit we may serve you gladly and bravely all our days; in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen”