Confirmation

This reading is in support of the St Thomas mission to support the Year of Faith and the Emeritus Pontiff’s call for mission.

Today we celebrate two very important events for our community.

The first is the Feast of Pentecost; which is by all accounts the celebration of the formal beginning of the Christian faith and ministry to the world. We know from today’s reading that the apostle’s gathered and the Holy Spirit descended upon them, touching them with flame tongues. They then began to minister to the great crowds each hearing the Word of God in his own native language. We know that over 3000 believers converted to what was then known as the Christ believers of the Jewish Faith.

The second is the Sacrament of Confirmation. In the early days of the church, when many communities were still communal, an adult person received three sacraments at once. On Easter; those who had been prepared and we willing to commit to a Christian life, came forward for full immersion baptism, to wash their sins away and be cleansed for receiving of the Holy Spirit. The Bishop then anointed the convert, sealing in the Spirit and the Gifts. The new member of the church would then take part in their first communion, or taking of the Eucharist. This was considered the highest of the three.

As a result of Constantine making Christianity the official religion combined with the continuing evangelical efforts to spread the Good News of Jesus; Christianity exploded out of the cities and into the countryside; the numbers of believers multiplied. It was no longer practical for a Bishop to attend to each baptism.

We teach in the church that our Bishops are practicing in the direct descent of our founding apostles. The practice of having a Bishop anoint the confirmandi and administer the sacrament is still the practice.

The oil, which will anoint the Confirmandi today, is called Chrism and is used in two ceremonies in the Church: Confirmation and Holy Orders. Both are sacraments in which the person is anointed for ministry. Therefore, Confirmation can be seen as an anointing for ministry, to conduct work to build the kingdom of God, not a graduation from church.

We speak of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit being confirmed in the candidates, we speak of maturity and full membership in the church; but today is much more. These 20 Confirmandi will now become witnesses for Christ, in their words, in their actions and through their deeds. We welcome into our community 20 full members who will give testimony to our Apostle’s Creed, our Universal Catholic Church and our baptismal vows in their lives. We celebrate that Christ is Risen!

Amen