This Sunday we come to the ritual of confirmation. Many of us were confirmed as teenagers, like my husband John — can you spot the tall guy in the back row in his Confirmation Class photo?
John and I were confirmed in “fighting” faiths – he was confirmed into the Presbyterian faith, where Calvin’s doctrine of Predestination claimed we could not control our soul’s fate. I was confirmed in the Lutheran faith, whose founder Martin Luther found comfort each morning by saying, “Remember, Martin, you are baptized!”
Sadly, confirmation doesn’t just confirm our faith, it confirms church division. So this Sunday we’ll consider not just confirmation, but the fact of church schism. This topic is near to our hearts, with the recent schism in the United Methodist denomination, and so many Methodist friends and churches near us.
I know that we don’t choose churches based just on doctrine – we choose location, aesthetics, the preacher, the program. But doctrine keeps us there; it’s hard to stay in a church where you feel out of step with the preacher and members.
Or, is it? The early church was a hothouse of diverse beliefs as it sorted out its identity and its understanding of Jesus. The early church found a way to stay together, because it practiced a confirmation different from today’s. It practiced a confirmation of the Holy Spirit.
This Sunday we’ll look at the difference between confirmations by the church and those by the Holy Spirit.