Wednesday, April 19 from 7 – 9pm (6 Wednesdays)
An introduction to Anglicanism course taught by the Rev. Jonathan Warren will run 6 consecutive Wednesdays from 7-9pm, beginning April 19 and concluding May 24. It is a great introduction to Anglicanism. It also serves as preparation for those adults who desire confirmation which will take place on Sunday, May 28. To register, sign up on our homepage or email email@example.com. Childcare is provided by reservation.
If you are new to Anglicanism, one thing that might stand out to you is the emphasis we place on the sacraments. Our tradition, no less than other evangelical traditions, places great emphasis upon the transformative power of grace, but more than other evangelical traditions we place great weight upon the sacraments as the means of grace.
By sacraments we primarily mean what are sometimes called the “sacraments of the Gospel,” the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist which were ordained by Christ himself and which “are generally necessary for our salvation” (To Be a Christian, q. 104). But like Roman Catholics and the Orthodox churches, we also recognize five other rites – confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction – which are “commonly called sacraments” (Articles of Religion, XXV). These are not necessary for salvation, but “God clearly uses them as means of grace” (To Be a Christian, Q. 117). Confirmation, then, is one of the rites sometimes called a “sacrament of the Church” (To Be a Christian, Q. 116). Why do we do it? And more importantly, do we have biblical warrant to do it?
Confirmation for Anglicans is a sacramental rite that seals your “mature commitment” to your baptismal covenant (To Be a Christian, Q. 118). When you are baptized in the Anglican church, the celebrant after baptizing you in the name of the Holy Trinity makes the sign of the cross on your forehead with chrism oil to seal that you belong to Christ forever. The celebrant then prays that in being marked with the cross, “you shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, to fight bravely under his banner against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to continue as his faithful servant to the end of your days” (The Order for Holy Baptism).
What this prayer tells you is that the covenant you make in baptism is to push back against the darkness of the world by the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer and in your conversations and in your actions. The New Testament does not permit a distinction between first and second class Christians. To be baptized is nothing less than to pledge to have your whole life conformed to the shape of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4).
In confirmation, we ask for an adult understanding of these vows you have taken in baptism, and we commission and pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon you in power to carry out this weighty calling. Our bishop lays hands upon you and prays for “daily increase in the Holy Spirit” to strengthen you for this weighty calling (Preface to Confirmation).
In Scripture, there is a rich theology that grounds the liturgical practice of the laying on of hands. Laying hands upon a person is a way of giving them a particular job or office (Numbers 27:18ff; Deuteronomy 34:9; Acts 6:6). In this sense the bishop solemnly enjoins all confirmands to carry out their worldly vocations to the glory of God, to fulfill their baptismal covenant (1 Cor. 10:31).
The laying on of hands is also closely associated in Scripture with blessing. For instance, Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh by laying hands on them (Gen. 48:13-20). In the New Testament, it is the blessing of the Holy Spirit that is imparted to newly baptized believers by the laying on hands (Acts 8:17-18; 19:5-6). Confirmation draws these scriptural threads together in a single liturgical act, summoning confirmands to carry out their baptismal calling and empowering them to do it with the blessing and power of God.
If you desire to make a mature commitment to your baptismal covenant and receive the laying on of hands for a daily increase in the power of the Spirit in your life, please join us as we come to understand more fully the vows we have taken in baptism and prepare to receive confirmation from our Bishop, Jim Hobby. Our primary text for the confirmation course will be the Anglican Catechism, To Be a Christian.