Happy All Saints Day! In this morning's staff meeting, we enjoyed this song (I challenge you to find a more British hymn) and this work of art as we contemplated both the lofty and ordinary saints who surround our lives. We will observe All Saints this coming Sunday, Nov 5, with a time of remembrance and gratitude for those who have died. Please email Russell names and photos of any loved ones who have died within the past year for inclusion in this annual time of remembrance (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tomorrow is All Souls Day. I loved the way Russell articulated the difference between All Saints and All Souls on Sunday: All Saints is a time of celebration, while All Souls is a time for lament. We tend to mash these together in our All Saints Sunday each year. But this year, for the first time, we will also observe All Souls Day in a separate service on Thursday, Nov 9, at 7pm at Greenbrier Baptist (5401 7th Rd S). This service will be an opportunity to grieve losses in an atmosphere of quiet prayer and contemplation; it will also serve as our quarterly Healing Eucharist. I hope you will come.
Finally, thanks to everyone who came out for last night's Halloween outreach at Greenbrier! Roughly 250 people came out for hot dogs, marshmallows, cider, and of course, candy. The neighbors were so appreciative, we had a few meaningful conversations, and I loved comments like, "Hey, you're the lady who prayed for my dog!" and (most-repeated) "When can you guys do this again?" We have a few more events up our sleeves, so stay tuned!
You can read more about Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls here in a brilliant series from Becky and Katie.
Exploring Confirmation and Reaffirmation
On Sunday, Dec 3, our new bishop, Chris Warner, will visit Incarnation for the first time! I have the privilege of serving on Bishop Chris' standing committee (sort of like the vestry for the diocese) and I am so excited for you all to meet him. He is a humble servant, and I respect him enormously.
Our annual bishop's visit is also a time for confirmation and reaffirmation, which can only be performed by a bishop. So . . . what does that mean?
Confirmation is sometimes referred to as "the ordination of the layperson," and I love that description. In confirmation, the bishop lays hands on a person and prays for the strengthening of the Holy Spirit for a life of service to God. In this way, confirmation is a rite of Christian maturity and mission, a public acknowledgement of the continuation of the Spirit's work in baptism.
During the baptism liturgy, we tell parents and godparents that when their baptized children have learned the Christian faith, they should "come to the bishop to be confirmed, to publicly claim the faith for their own and be further strengthened by the Holy Spirit to serve Christ and his kingdom" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 163). In baptism, the Holy Spirit births a person into the body of Christ. At confirmation, the Holy Spirit strengthens him or her for the continual growing and deepening in the Christian life that marks a mature faith.
This deepening and strengthening by the Spirit is not only for the good of the confirmed person; it also equips them to be sent out for the good of others. Confirmation marks someone with a deeper sense of Christian vocation as a witness and minister of Jesus in all the ordinary places of their lives: their households, neighborhoods, and workplaces.
In other words, confirmation is a powerful moment of grace in which a person makes a public profession of faith, and the bishop and church surround them and say in return: "We have watched you mature in the faith. We see your unique gifts and calling and the ways you serve those around you as a minister of Jesus. We affirm all that God is doing in your life, and now we ask for an increase of the Spirit to empower you for more. We can't wait to see how the world will experience more of the fullness of God's kingdom through you."
Confirmation is open to anyone who is baptized and affirms the Nicene Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. Those who are already confirmed may also wish to reaffirm their faith (same ceremony, ever-so-slightly different prayer) — this reaffirmation can be especially meaningful for those who are returning to the faith, experiencing inward spiritual renewal, or going through a significant life transition.
Are you interested in exploring confirmation or reaffirmation? The bishop will visit on December 3. We will hold a confirmation preparation class in late November for anyone interested (whether or not you decide to be confirmed). Please email Katie if you are interested in learning more: email@example.com.
From Halloween bonfires to All Souls lament, it's a gift to be your pastor — please reach out if there's anything you'd like to discuss!