Epiphany has always been special for me. I never imagined there could be a more joyful way to celebrate Epiphany than in Reading, where we used to send out a server out after communion for fish and chips all round from the chip shop in Briants Avenue. But last night I went to confirm in St Mary’s Aylesbury, and the experience was wonderful. Frs Shane Wood, Mark Ackford and colleagues organised a most glorious time — 42 candidates plus a baby, with the oldest candidate in her 90’s. The service which was set up collegially (people facing each other with me going along the lines to confirm, and Fr Mark following to anoint). Quirky and wonderful happenings broke out all over afterwards — a Zimbabwean Mothers Union delegation resplendent in blue and white uniforms, somebody coming up and asking me to bless a pilgrim rosary from Knock... The whole place was heaving, but with a real sense that the light that shone over the stable is now shining in and through people’s lives — pure joy, real hope.
There may be an argument for the occasional really big confirmation, gathering people into a large Church on a special occasion for a slightly over-the-top but glorious celebration, really making something of it. Last night certainly showed how this could be done.