The Counter-Cultural Liturgy of Confirmation

Dustin+ Messer

Confirmation Sunday is one the most counter-cultural liturgies we have. It’s one that reminds us of the object of our worship: God.

The liturgy of the world would have us believe that we are the center of the universe. As we wander through the mall, see ads pop up on our screens and browse the aisles of Target, we’re sold a bill of goods. Marketers tell us what this product or that service can do for us—how it will make our lives easier, more fun and more comfortable.

Sellers don’t just hawk products, they sell us a particular anthropology. If we come to understand ourselves as homo consumens, “man as consumer,” our souls will be empty; but so will be the shelves at the store, and that’s a trade the advertisers are willing to make.

With such a view of humanity constantly reinforced, it’s easy to see church as just another service being offered to us, a religious product meant to better our lives. Again, we’re led to believe that we are the center of the universe.

But Confirmation Sunday is a day when we see people pledge their obedience to God. It is a beautiful occasion to remind ourselves that what happens at church isn’t centered on us, it’s centered on God. It’s not about what we get, it’s about what we give: our very selves.

On Confirmation Sunday we worship—we give God his worth, offering to him sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. To be sure, we get things out of church—comfort, teaching, fellowship—but the audience for worship is God, not us. Why do we go to church? It’s hard to improve upon the Book of Common Prayer:

“We have come together in the presence of Almighty God our heavenly Father, to set forth his praise, to hear his holy Word, and to ask, for ourselves and on behalf of others, those things that are necessary for our life and our salvation.”

Confirmation Sunday reminds us of who we are: homo adorans, “man as worshiper.” And it reminds us of who God is, the center of the universe—indeed, the center of all reality.

The Rev. Dr. Dustin Messer serves as a priest at All Saints Dallas in downtown Dallas, TX. Additionally, Dustin is a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition and teaches in the department of religious and theological studies at The King's College in New York, NY. A graduate of Boyce College and Covenant Theological Seminary, Dustin earned a doctorate in ethics at La Salle University and went on to complete a fellowship at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Along with his work in local parish ministry, Dustin has served in positions of leadership for a number renewal organizations within the broader Anglican church, including the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC). Dustin is married to his college sweetheart, Whitney, and they have one daughter, Pennilyn Grace.

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