Monday, November 14, 2011
A New Commitment
I have to begin cleaning out Asa's closet, because his clothes have become too tight. It's a task I don't really want to do: saying goodbye to his first clothes. And so I'm beginning to learn even more about this growing into adult thing, by watching my own child grow up.
Yesterday I felt even more like a grown up (in some sense) as I was confirmed at Christ our Hope--I am now an Anglican! (I really like having some concrete tradition that I can say wholeheartedly that I am a part of--it's like taking responsibility and charge, I guess, of my own beliefs--and hey after all the crappy dark years, I've wound back up in a beautiful community of Christian believers.) Standing up with my husband I felt I was making a commitment like the one I made a year and a half ago. I felt the same way when Asa was baptized last week. These events are huge, and they should be regarded along the same scale as the sacrament of marriage.
The liturgy of both events mark what it is we believe about being confirmed or being baptized. What is so profound about these events is not merely ritual and going through steps of tradition and religious practice (although I think alot can be said for adhering to tradition...) but what is built into the liturgy of the service. I grew up in an evangelical tradition, and I will say, there is alot of judgment passed onto some of the more liturgical Christian denominations--passing them off as cold, insensitive, communal? That is that an individual cannot possibly make a meaningful decision about one's faith if they're simply following steps in a ritual like confirmation or when a parent makes the decision to baptize a baby. And it's in that very individualistic thinking that I find a problem and thus liturgy is kind of my answer? Corporate worship. Christianity is not an individualistic faith. We depend on others to build us up in the Faith, and ultimately, we depend on CHRIST to save us. Where does the gospel of "me" factor into Christianity or into Christian worship? Should it? I think not. And I think that's where liturgy, call and response, whatever you call it, is so beautifully symbolic of this kind of faith. A dependence on something greater than ourselves! That's why when the Bishop said to us "candidates" yesterday, "Brothers and sisters" I'm moved. Every little word fashioned in the liturgy means something--that we are doing this together, that we are now a family in Christ due to the blood that he shed. Sure, we make those individual decisions to follow Christ (I mean not to minimalize this), but that is not the end. With confirmation, we pray that we remain committed to the decisions we have made and we profess them to an authority so we can be kept accountable by our True family, the church as we mature and grow within this new community.
The Bishop prayed this yesterday at the close of the Confirmation, "God has made us one in Christ. He has set his seal upon us and, as a pledge of what is to come, has given the Spirit to dwell in our hearts."
I am now committed to a community of believers, and with the help of our community we will, by God's Good Grace, will build up His Kingdom.