I was baptized when I was about six months old. I don’t remember it, obviously, but I have heard the stories. Somewhere, there is an old reel to reel audiotape of the service where I was (apparently) screaming my little head off. I do, however, remember my confirmation service well. I was a senior in high school and was confirmed by the Bishop in the very small chapel at my school. The cross I wear every day was given to me by my grandparents on that day.

My daughters were baptized as young children and each was old enough (and verbal enough) to answer the question, “Do you desire to be baptized?” Each one said, “I do.” David and I tell the story of their baptisms often, so that they can remember those details and make the story of that day be part of their story.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the rites of initiation and faith passages that we have in the Episcopal Church. We will have baptisms at the 9:00 a.m. service on Sunday, November 3, which is All Saints Sunday. That same day, our youth confirmation preparation class will have its first meeting. I’ve been blessed to be with the Covenant Class for three sessions so far, teaching about the Bible, Christian history, and the Episcopal Church. So for the past few months, I have been making preparations for these acts of transformation and transition points in their spiritual journeys.

Baptism is the rite (liturgy, worship service) by which new Christians are made. As Episcopalians, so much of our theology is in the words of our liturgy. Here is what is prayed as we give thanks for the water of baptism and ask God to make that water holy and sacred so that it can change lives: “We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.” (BCP p. 306) God loves us as sons and daughters, whether we are baptized or not, but in baptism we join a new family of Christians around the world and across the millennia.

Confirmation is the rite in which youth or adult Christians who were baptized as infants or children take on their baptismal promises for themselves. In this, they make a public affirmation of their maturing faith. This year, we have a group of youth, mostly eighth and ninth graders, who are beginning the process of preparation towards making this public affirmation. In the spring, each one of them will choose whether she or he is ready to make that move into being an adult Christian.  When the Bishop visits on June 1, 2014, he will lead the worship service and lay hands on the head of each individual confirmand while praying for the Holy Spirit to continue to sustain and empower that person. It is important to be clear -- confirmation is a spiritual journey point in the life of a Christian; it is never too late to be confirmed.

In the Confirmation service, the Bishop asks a question that is a good one for each of us to think about, probably every day. “Do you renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?” The answer the Book of Common Prayer gives is this, “I do, and with God’s grace I will follow him as my Savior and Lord.” Indeed and Amen!

PS – If you want to hear a little more about baptism and what the Brits call christening, check out this link from the Archbishop of Canterbury: 

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5162/watch-archbishop-justin-on-the-royal-christening

Cheers!