1 Peter 1:3-6
Next week, I'll be reinforcing the commitment I made to my faith six years ago at Baptism. I will be confirmed into the Scottish Episcopal Church - an Anglican church (But probably soon to be treated as a naughty child by Canterbury).
Confirmation is very important to me for many reasons.While Baptism can happen privately, confirmation is a very public affair and requires the participation of the Bishop. It is an event where one publicly declares ones commitment to the faith -No mistaking the intention there.
My faith provides a spiritual renewal for me every single day. I am imperfect and I sin, sometimes in thought, sometimes in word and sometimes in deed. Sometimes in all three. But it is my faith that guides me through the maze of spiritual self fulfillment and provides me with the wherewithall to keep going.
I am not the person that I was six years ago. There are some things that remain stuck in my mind from the morning of my baptism. I was baptised at the Easter morning service - the really early bonfire service - yes that's the one.
My partner was always overly OCD about time keeping. I had prepared to read the book of Ruth in Hebrew at the service. I had put a lot of effort into preparing for the biggest religious shift of my life. The screaming and shouting started an hour before the service was due to start. I was in trouble because we were "late". It was rush, rush, rush and a lot of yelling at me about my bad timekeeping. We were all shuffled into the car and my partner drove us the fastest route. I realised half way there that I had forgotten my reading behind. I was deeply disappointed. It was brushed off as too bad because we were running late!
We arrived fifteen minutes early. If I had of been given just five minutes to stop and go though my checklist, the way I felt on arrival would have been different. Wearing white -check, same shoes -check, All the kids -check, Hebrew reading print off -check. I felt robbed of a special part of my transition of Jew to Christian.
My baptism was undoubtedly special, there is only ever one. I have never forgotten the date or time.
The journey since has been spectacular. I have realised how central my faith is to my life. When things have been good I've been able to experience and express gratitude. When things have been hard I've been able to regroup my faith context and explore my beliefs. While I have been let down by family, by clergy and by the system,I have never been let down by my faith. My G-d.
Now I'm going to be confirmed. Again there is only ever one. This one will happen in the evening.This one I will have control over. No freaking about time frames, I will choose my dress, I will make my way there, I will present myself before the Bishop to reinforce my commitment that I made over six years ago. And I will have my witnesses - those that have watched me grow in my faith.
The world was made in seven days, and in my seventh year as a Christian I am to be confirmed. Hardship has lit my spiritual path for me. In the next seven years I will focus on my ministry as a Christian. My faith has allowed me to discover my spiritual gifts too. I know my path is to work with the poor and the elderly and probably the elderly poor.
When Christians are baptised they are welcomed into a life of ministry. You dont have to be ordained to practice faithful ministry in the Church. In fact we are called to ministry at baptism. And this is where faith is the key. Wherever I am to land up, it will be with the guidance of Christ. If I am to live out my days at a mission in the poorest part of Africa, then that is what will happen, or the poorest parts of Glasgow, that's where my faith and spiritual journey will take me.
Poverty, pain and loneliness is not selective,it occurs everywhere in the world.Working with those who experience this is definitely where I will go because we all have spiritual gifts and the one gift that I have is hope.
When our spiritual gifts are based in purity, they become easier to share, to cultivate in others and to develop and the one thing that I know and understand well is hope. It is the greatest gift that has ever been bestowed upon me. I have received hope and I have shared hope. I pray that I am blessed to cultivate it in others to make a difference.
And so my confirmation is a milestone - not an end, a new beginning.
I will share my confirmation with someone who ignited my hope at one of the darkest times of my life.Someone who herself despite being an Anglican priest has needed hope and needed to resource her hope from her faith. My friend Michelle Bailey.
She has become a very close friend. A non judgmental caring follower of the faith.
It is the gift of hope that has kept the fire of faith burning within.
I am grateful for hope, because hope in Christ has transformed my life.