May is the month when confirmation takes place at Holy Trinity. Graduation of our eighth-graders will follow soon after. Often people get the mistaken impression that confirmation is a kind of glorified graduation— a “Church Graduation,” if you will.
That is not what confirmation really is. At confirmation the young man or woman is renewing the vows made for them at their baptism— they are promising before the Lord to remain faithful to the Christian faith until the day they die. This means they have to understand that Christian faith. It means they have been thoroughly instructed in the six chief parts of Christian doctrine, and are prepared to receive the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion.
Preparation for Holy Communion requires two things. First, the communicant must understand that Jesus’ body and blood are received in the Sacrament along with the earthly elements of bread and wine. Second, the individual must be prepared and able to examine himself before receiving the Sacrament. At confirmation we are stating publically that the Confirmands have this understanding and the ability to examine themselves.
But a year or two or twenty down the line the understanding must still be there; the ability to examine oneself is still necessary. Thus, confirmation isn’t really a one-time event, but a life-long process. The doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ’s body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine is what Scripture teaches, but it doesn’t exactly make mathematical sense to our logical-driven human minds. It is something that must be studied and re-studied throughout one’s life as a Christian. How can one examine his faith if he/she doesn’t review what that faith is; what Scripture teaches about God’s plan of salvation and whether they believe it?
No, confirmation isn’t a one-time event, but a life-long process.
At Holy Trinity the confirmation student typically receives instruction for the seventh and eighth grade years and, presuming that he/she successfully completes the required studies, is confirmed near the end of the eighth grade year.
As this year’s Confirmands renew their baptismal vows, think about your own confirmation day. You, too, had that renewal of vows. Have you forgotten the fact that it was, and is, a life-long event? Rededicate yourself to a study of God’s Word that provides you further growth in your understanding of what God has done for you in bringing you salvation, that the tangible evidence of that salvation, Christ’s body and blood received in the Sacrament, might be just as dear to you now as it was on your Confirmation Day many years ago. God’s blessings on your confirmation— continuing from that day until the end of your life!