I remember well the feeling of relief as I graduated from University in the summer of 2006, but also the feeling of apprehension as I started the process of filling out complicated application forms in my search for employment. At one stage getting a job it seemed like an impossible task as every employer wanted a period of experience as well as the qualifications. Yet, one can’t get a job without experience, and experience without the job.
As I look back on those days of worry and anxiety, I can’t help but see the hand of God guiding, leading and shaping me for the future which He had in store for me. Those all to familiar words of the prophet Jeremiah spring to mind “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
This month, three of our young people will be confirmed by Bishop Ken in the Church of the Good Shepherd, Sion Mills. Then they will be admitted to the Holy Communion in Christ Church, Strabane. Please pray for these candidates as they gain experience of what it means to be a ‘communicant member’ of the Church. Encourage them, not only in your prayers, but in sharing your own faith and experiences, as they take their place within the life and witness of the Parish and Church community.
I often chat with other clergy and seek advice from their own experiences, and one thing is continually said by all clergy: “Why do people see confirmation as a ‘graduation’ from Sunday School and Church?” So, to try and set the record straight, as I have already discussed with the confirmation candidates, and said before in Church, Confirmation is not a graduation ceremony. At confirmation, the candidates profess faith in the Living God, promise to follow and love Him all their life, and dedicate themselves to His service. John, Jude and Reece, along with the other candidates are saying, “this is what I believe and I am old enough and mature enough to understand what this means”.
Romans 10:9 tells us to confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord, so may we not only encourage these candidates in their faith, but also think about our own relationship with Jesus and what we do for Him.