This weekend I was at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island for the South Georgia Annual Conference’s Confirmation Retreat. This is a time for our church to gather all the young people that we hope are ready after a time if instruction to accept the faith of Christ and make it their faith in Christ. Because in the United Methodist Church they practice infant baptism, confirmation becomes an important point in the life of every Methodist believer. This sacrament has two purposes.
First, it reminds the church that they have a responsibility to care for and nurture the faith of the child that has been born into a believing family. God is the one baptizing through the instrument of the church. We, as a church, are not doing anything for the child in the act of baptism. What we are witnessing is the grace of God in action. Therefore, as that child grows up and is taught about faith, confirmation becomes the moment where we ask the child to “confirm” for themselves that the faith taught to them.
This leads us the second purpose of infant baptism. The second purpose is to demonstrate to the whole church, and all those that witness the event, how we believe God works in our lives. God’s grace is active in the whole world right now. He is working in and thought believers and the circumstances of life in order for us to see Him. We are inviting those who do not have faith in Christ to join us in a new journey of faith, hope and love. In the Methodist church we see see sanctification (i.e., the process of becoming more and more like Jesus) as a progressive act. It is not something that happens over night.
This was a great weekend. I hope that the over 500 youth and adults that attended enjoyed the time spent remembering how God’s grace has brought them this far.