When I was confirmed as an Episcopalian, the decision to be in the Cathedral that day was preceded by a long journey. I took not one, but two confirmation classes, not feeling entirely ready after the first class. I was not only discerning whether I was called to membership in the Episcopal Church, I was also discerning a call to ordained ministry in the Church. I had spent over a year studying, praying, talking to people about their denomination experiences, and listening for the voice of God. I had to have conversations with people like my father, who not only was a United Methodist minister, but also was his father, his brother, his uncles, and on and on. Needless to say, when I knelt down in front of the bishop that day, I came with the weight and conviction of that discernment process.
But something powerful happened when the Bishop put his hands on my head, and my presenters put their hands on my shoulders. Though the weight of those hands was heavy, the weight also seemed to melt away the year of toil and angst. The power of those hands seemed to push out of my being any doubt or sense of wandering, and instead, a wave of peace, affirmation, and purpose washed over me. When the Dean helped me rise to my feet, I felt light and buoyant. The imprint of those hands felt both oddly still heavily present and yet empowering.
This Sunday, we will be confirming and receiving several parishioners at our triennial bishop’s visit. They come from all walks of life. Some are youth who were born and raised in the Episcopal Church. Some are adults from Baptist, United Methodist, and Roman Catholic backgrounds. Some bring burdens from their past experiences in the church and some are deeply appreciative of their roots in another tradition. All have spent time in study, reflection, and discernment about whether this is the right decision for them. And all are excited about the new ways they have seen God inspiring their spiritual journey, and are hopeful about the ways that Hickory Neck will walk with them on that journey.
All of that – the preparation, the discernment, the long histories, the maturing of youth, the questions, and the affirmation all come through hands – hands that have been blessed through the centuries and consecrated to bless this new phase of journeys. I look forward to this momentous occasion and all it brings for our confirmands and those being received. And I can’t wait to see where the journey takes them in the years to come!