As we continue to work through the change and challenges of this time, says Bishop Hughes, that inspiration that led us to the faith in the first place and that keeps us going in the faith is going to be important to us. (Time: 3:30.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. We live in a time of immeasurable change and of boundless challenge. And in this time of change and challenge, one of the things that has been an incredible blessing as we've worked through – and diligently worked through – much that has been difficult and that has been hard and has been full of tragedy – we have grown in our ability to see God's grace, to see the gifts that God has given us and the many ways that God has blessed us. And most certainly in this diocese, in our parishes and for individuals, confirmations and ordinations have been an extraordinary blessing.
We had to delay on those in the worst of pandemic and when we started confirmations back up this past August, we were doing basically – we called it “make up” confirmations – there were people who had waited over a year to be confirmed. And we had confirmed a group of people in August, in six or seven confirmation services, another six or eight confirmation services in the Fall and then we had our regular confirmation season this past May. In all those groupings of confirmations, more than 300 people in this diocese stood before God, their friends, their family and their clergy and professed their faith.
Oh my goodness, I wish everybody in this diocese had been able to be a part of those services! And you can – you can look at them online. They are so inspiring – to see those people come forward, to have them kneel and have the prayer said before them and the joy that they experienced in knowing that they were taking their place in the church. The same joy is evident at the ordination services where we pray for those who profess their faith and profess God's calling to a particular ministry to serve God's people in the church as deacons or priests.
I think this inspiration is something that all of us need to hold on to and cultivate because at some time we have all felt it. And particularly as we continue to work through the change and challenges of this time, that inspiration that led us to the faith in the first place and that keeps us going in the faith is going to be important to us.
So I leave you with these words that have been said over you if you are confirmed. And if you're not confirmed, please talk to your priest, they'd be happy to get you ready for the next group of confirmations. But these words were said over you as you were confirmed and that someone – a bishop – laid their hands on your head and said this, knowing that God would fill you and carry you in your faith and in your ministry:
“Strengthen, oh Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit, empower him or her for your service, sustain them all the days of their lives.”