Confirmation: Anglican Style!

I was confirmed in the Methodist Church when I was 15. Back in 1988, it was clearly communicated that confirmation was the time when young people joined the church. I went through an entire year of classes, and a big celebration followed – both at church and afterwards at home. Besides maybe my birthday, that weekend was one of the highlights of my young life.

In 2010, I learned I could be confirmed in the Anglican Church also and asked my pastor about it. He said that while many churches consider confirmation as a pathway to church membership, our church saw it a little differently. First, there were no classes to attend. We saw it more like a laying on hands for lay ministry and a call for the Holy Spirit on one’s life. The bishop would lead us in the liturgy and then pray for each of the candidates. He also warned to not expect something magical to happen on that day. Instead, he said, just let the Lord do what he wants.
I prayed about it. I felt compelled to do it, but still I felt I had participated in many ministry commissionings. My boss had a little commissioning ceremony into her ministry after I received my degree. College graduation might not have been exactly a commissioning, but wasn’t it a public event to thank God for what he has done in my life especially since I received my degree at a Christian college?
How many public things should I do to feel like God had commissioned me for ministry? I felt one time was enough. Still, I felt the smallest nudge to do confirmation at the International Anglican Church.
The day of confirmation, I felt just as weird. Was I supposed to go through with this, or was I disobeying God? About a week before, Mom told me they did confirmation at her church and how she had fond memories of her three sons at their confirmations. I felt if I told Mom about this confirmation, I’d tarnish her memories.
Still, Did I really feel called? I couldn’t discern God’s voice. What should I wear? I like to dress up on special days. Was this a special day? Even though I knew no one would be dressed up, I decided to be myself and put on my suit and see what God had in store for me.

Conformation cercificateThe service was disheartening, and I was certain I was not following the Lord. Still, I followed Ken’s advice and my intuition and believed God must have something in mind for me. Even if someone was just blessed seeing confirmed that was good enough for me. Maybe I could be an example – in my wheelchair and all – for someone to believe more in Christ and to be closer to him. In fact, that was my prayer.
As I sat in front of the alter and participated in the service, I didn’t feel the Lord. I asked people to stand behind and pray for me, but were they behind me? I didn’t know. I couldn’t feel their touch. I felt lonely. I even felt more called to pray for my friend standing next to me instead of trying to understand why I had participated in the service.
The bishop came to me.  He made the cross on my forehead and said a personal prayer for my life. It was nice, although I forget what he said. Maybe I wasn’t listening. Maybe I had “left the building” and gave up trying to figure out why I did this. Not that it was a horrible or a day I wanted to forget, it was just…a day. I went home, took off my suit, threw my certificate into a draw, and went on with life. I assumed confirmation day was over.
Six weeks later I was hard at work in my office when I stopped in my tracks. “Oh my God,” I said in amazement. “Look at me. Look at what I’m doing. Now I get it.” And I lifted up a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
The last three years had been rough dealing with body issues, ending some relationships, finishing school, and starting a ministry. Now, since confirmation day, I had written and sent in three articles, ministered to many people on my online ministry, and have been productive with Mephibosheth Ministry. My pastor gave me excellent advice: “Don’t look for God to act today. It might be today, tomorrow, or next week when you feel the Spirit.” Or in six weeks.
I couldn’t see it that day, but I received the Holy Spirit on confirmation day 2010. This is not the place to figure out how it happened or why it happened that way; I just know the Holy Spirit fell upon me that day, and I am still experiencing Him to this day. He is at work through me.
As a testimony to that, I close with a story.  I participated at a ministry fair this past Saturday. A woman came up to the booth and started talking to me. We had a great conversation. She saw the vision of Mephibosheth Ministry. As she prayed for me, she did something totally bizarre. The lady acted like I was on fire or something when she touched me.

I couldn’t imagine what was wrong with me until I heard her say something about the Holy Spirit. Then I caught her meaning. This woman must have felt the Holy Spirit around me. She felt God’s power within me. I still don’t know what to think about that. Perhaps it’s just a fitting ending to this story confirming that I really did receive the Holy Spirit on Confirmation Sunday 2010.

I wrote that four years ago and just reread it. My wife is getting confirmed this Pentecost, and I dragged out this story to show her. As I read it, this sentence hit me: “The last three years had been rough dealing with body issues, ending some relationships, finishing school, and starting a ministry.”

I remember this. I also have the benefit to have seen what the next four years have brought. A new book and new ministries to participate in. New friends. Someone to love for the rest of my life. Yes, the Holy Spirit has been, and will continue to be, working in my life.

God is good!

Still, there has always been an uneasiness feeling in my heart. Did I tarnish my first confirmation by being confirmed again?

I recently reconnected with the youth pastor who taught my confirmation class. I decided to ask him how the two confirmations go together, and this is what he wrote:

“It only enhanced what you learned and builds on that foundation. I am very happy that you remember our Confirmation class! We covered a lot of ground back then. Your entrance to the Anglican Church is, in a sense, a fruit of that class. I’m overjoyed.”

It’s a small part of my story but important. I received a glimpse in what God has been doing. The Holy Spirit is strong in my life, and I’m heading toward Sanctification.