August 22, 2023

From the Rector…

Every Episcopal church has the same chair, the bishop’s chair. In more traditional churches, the bishop’s chair is reserved for the bishop only—it is considered almost anathema for anyone else to sit in it. In other places it is a chair reserved for the bishop when they are at the church, but the sanctity of the chair may vary in degree.

I am of the more traditional variety. The bishop’s chair is reserved for the bishop—not simply as a sign of the bishop’s authority over the church, it is also—and more importantly—a sign of connection. As Episcopalians we are connected to all other Episcopalians through the authority we warrant our bishops. Whether or not the bishop is sitting in the chair has little to do with the value and importance of the chair itself. The chair exists to remind us that we belong to a community larger than just the Church of the Ascension. We are Episcopalians connected to other parishes, to the Diocese of Alabama, to the greater church. We don’t sit in that chair on Sunday mornings because so many other people are already sitting in our chair metaphorically speaking. It may look empty but it is a symbol of all that we get to belong too.

The bishop will get to sit in her chair on October 15 when she comes for her bi-annual visit. She will preach and celebrate the Eucharist and confirm and receive new members while reaffirming others. In preparation for her visit, there will be the normal to-do lists whenever the bishop visits. The clergy, altar guild, LEMs, and acolytes will prepare for a slightly different approach to the liturgy. The choir—both adult and children—will rehearse beautiful anthems. The hospitality crew will plan and decorate and cook and serve. Those seeking confirmation and reception or reaffirmation will spend the next several weeks studying and preparing to make this commitment to the church. And we will pray for the visit and the guidance that the bishop might offer us and the partnership we will continue to cultivate with her.

Confirmation is a sacrament of the church. It is characterized with the laying on of hands by the bishop. It is considered a mature declaration of faith and the formal way in which one joins The Episcopal Church. When the bishop lays hands on the person to be confirmed, she uses language of sustenance and empowerment, calling the Holy Spirit to be the conduit of such spiritual gifts. Other prayers in the service of Confirmation intercede upon the Spirit for the people in asking for a renewal of the covenant God has made with us in our baptism; the understanding that we are not simply bequeathing a title among those who would be confirmed but a reminder of their call to God’s service; and, the recognition of our unity in Christ—not as individuals but as one body. The service also recognizes that the work of Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation is communal work. The bishop may lay hands on particular individuals but the whole congregation is asked to do all in our power to support these persons in their life in Christ: All of us, together, carry on the work of salvation that God has called us to. 

This Sunday, August 27, will begin an Enquirer’s Class in the staff conference room. We will meet through October 15 on Sunday mornings at 9:15am (the Sunday School hour) to prepare to receive this sacrament. On September 27, we will celebrate an Instructed Eucharist at 5:30pm designed to teach about the liturgy while participating in it. All are invited to participate in the Instructed Eucharist, regardless of whether or not they are participants in the Enquirer’s Class. For more information about the class or the Eucharist, contact Candice@coascension.org.

The bishop will get to sit in her chair on October 15 and continue her work of connecting even more people into the body of Christ and The Episcopal Church. It is a joy to get to do that work with her.  Pray for the bishop, pray for the church, and pray for those who will be confirmed.

Light and Life,

Candice+

candice@coascension.org

P. S. If you would like to be Confirmed, Received, or Reaffirmed, please reach out to Candice@coascension.org or meet us this Sunday in the staff conference room at the end of the hall in the office wing of the church.