Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Confirmation

I was reading a post on another blog about someone's church confirmation and it reminded me of my own. The experience was actually quite meaningless to me, which in turn had a bigger effect on who I am now.

Let me back up and tell you that I was not baptized in a church, my parents did it themselves in the ocean. I actually love that, however I grew up thinking I was not "really" baptized like everyone else at church. One time at church I read in the service leaflet, "All baptized Christians are welcome to join us for communion." Having taken communion for several months I was a bit scared that I wasn't supposed to have done it and worriedly showed my mother, who reassured me I was fine. At our church (Episcopal), most people are baptized as babies, only very rarely would an adult be baptized. As a girl, my mom told me that if I wanted to I could participate in the church ceremony. I declined, but had thoughts of doing it someday in the future.

Once a year the older teens would participate in a confirmation ceremony. I was never really sure what that was for, but watched it for several years growing up. The teens would be dressed up in even nicer than church clothes, and would receive small gifts, (usually a bible) afterwards. It turns out, it is sort of a renewing of the baptismal vows, a more mature statement of faith. When I was probably around 15 it was decided by the church that I would be confirmed. Unlike the writer of the above blog, I had no studying to do or preparation, other than shopping for an outfit to wear. In our church, a bishop was the one who did the confirmations and it was a really big deal when any of the "higher ups" came to the local church. I don't think I had to say anything during the ceremony. There were a series of statements that the bishop read and the congregation had set answers that they replied. That was it. There was no one else being confirmed that day, so unlike the ceremonies I had seen in the past, I was standing alone, not with a group of my peers.

Afterwards my mother simply gushed about how wonderful the bishop was and how magical it was when he looked at me.
"Do you feel different?" she asked me.
"No." I said, feeling rather disappointed "Should I?"
She said something like "That's up to you."
I thought about it. It seemed ridiculous to me that the bishop could be so special that he could change a person just by looking at or touching them. After all, he was just a regular man, just like everyone else.

As we were getting ready to leave, a few of the church leaders came over and spoke to us. Apparently one of them had told the bishop after the ceremony about my special situation of not being baptized at church. It was told to me rather casually something like, "by the way, he baptized you too." Yes that's right, apparently even though the ceremony was over, and even though it was only a confirmation ceremony, and even though I was already baptized, and even though I did not consent, the bishop still was able to baptize me. Now that really is magic!

3 comments:

The CrazyHumanist said...

wow...that is crazy.

Heather said...

You didn't have to take any classes? I had to take at least 8 weeks of booooorrrring classes before confirmation. And I did think it was weird that it was just decided for me that it was time to be confirmed. Definitely takes away from the true meaning of the word.

Some kind of clergy member did baptize us in the ocean. Mom showed me pictures one time. The person was standing in the ocean in his robes.

lucydice6 said...

Your story is SO similar to mine! I did take classes for confirmation at the Methodist church in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, but they were actually pretty open as far as discussion - we were allowed to question things, etc. During the classes, I mentioned that I hadn't been baptized, and asked if it was ok for me to be confirmed. Nothing else was said, but on confirmation day, I was up in front of the congregation, and the preacher announced that I would be baptized as well! I felt pretty tricked, but what could I do when I was in front of everyone and only 12, not an age when I could "buck the system" in front of an entire congregation!? To this day, I feel tricked into being baptized.