St James's Church, Hampton Hill

St James's Day with Confirmation - 2015 July

St. James's Day

" "
St James’s Day 2015 saw us welcome Bishop Stephen Platten, formerly Bishop of Wakefield, and now Rector of St Michael, Cornhill in the City of London and an Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London.

The bishop came to celebrate our patronal festival, and also was kind enough to Confirm six members of the congregation. The adults and two children confirmed for themselves their baptism, and received holy communion for the first time.

Lunch followed in the vicarage garden, where young and old ate lunch and had fun.

Read the 2015 Parish Communion with Confirmation Service Booklet.

St. James's Day

St James's Day

St. James's Day

St. James's Day

St. James's Day

St. James's Day

The other day I came across a book in my study called A Manual of Catholic Devotion. It is a book containing the then forms for Holy Communion, Bible readings, and prayers for daily and occasional use. The front inside page of the book indicates why I was given it:
Peter Vannozzi, confirmed at St Mary’s, Hanwell, on 6 July, 1974 by Hewlett, Bishop of Willesden.
It was a gift from my vicar at St Mark’s, Hanwell, Father Tim Tobias. I recall a few things about the day: it was a Sunday, the service was in the evening, it was sunny, and the then vicar at St Mary’s, Hanwell, was the brother of the late Harry Secombe! Not the most overtly spiritual of memories, but there it is.

I wonder what those to be confirmed at St James’s on Sunday 12 July will recall about the day in forty years’ time? Read the 2015 Parish Communion with Confirmation Service Booklet.

What is Confirmation?
It will be the first time since 2009 that we have a service of Confirmation at St James’s, and it will be on St James’s Day, our annual celebration of the patron saint of the church and parish. Bishop Stephen Platten, a London bishop, will be with us. Until Easter 2014 he was Bishop of Wakefield.

Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey at which people affirm for themselves the faith into which they have been baptised and their intention to live a life of committed discipleship. This affirmation is confirmed through prayer and the laying on of hands and anointing with oil by the confirming bishop. The Church also asks God to give them power through the Holy Spirit to live the way of Jesus. Confirmation is multi-faceted, and different parts of the Church practise it in various ways.

Three aspects of Christian life
In common, though, is that it enables members of the congregation to take a step of faith publicly. As they do so, there are three aspects of the Christian life that might healthily interact for them, and indeed for any follower of Jesus.

The first is journey. This is a prominent image in the Bible from the call of Abraham in the Book of Genesis through to the travelling ministry of Jesus, and beyond into the work of those who came after him. It is a frequently used image of human life, and though overuse can make it trite, nonetheless it is valid.
The ‘journey’ allows for change and development, recognising that life is not one straight river, but rather a river with many tributaries, some of which are a delight, but others of which are the exact opposite. The journey image, applied to both human life in general and faith in particular, allows for their integration.
Our candidates for Confirmation are on a journey which will already have seen many and varied twists and turns with more ahead of them. So it is with any human being, including those who have explicitly chosen to express their Christian belief.

A second aspect of the Christian life is story. The Bible is full of stories! It tells of myriad encounters between God and humanity, and a rich range of human beings with each other. If there is one consistent character in the stories, it is God.
God’s story is being unfolded as well as that of humanity. Those coming to be confirmed this month will each have their own story to tell. Over the years I have heard many stories, and it is important for people to be able to tell theirs.
It will have many facets. When people come to confirm their baptism, their personal stories intersect with the Christian story. The story of Jesus, for example, becomes the individual’s story. Their story becomes a part of the unfolding story of faith.

Thirdly, I want to say that The Way is a theme of the Christian faith, complementing those of journey and story. Christianity is a pattern for living, a way of life. Essential to truly Christian living is the taking-on of patterns of belief, prayer and behaviour that give form and substance to the Christian life.
The earlier Christians referred to themselves as ‘The Way’, and again this is an image that is fluid, allowing for the Christian life to be seen as a process rather than a static state, once accepted, with no more to be done.

James the fisherman
The first mentions of James the apostle suggest this. He was called by Jesus to follow him, which he did, leaving his fisherman’s nets to do so. He ran for his life along with other disciples when Jesus was arrested and crucified. Yet later (in Acts) James was with his friends waiting for the Holy Spirit to come. Then we read that he was killed because of his faith.
It was quite a journey to travel, story to tell, and way to follow. In each case, all the candidates for Confirmation here, or anywhere, will already be on a journey, have a story to tell, and be following a way. Life is like that, and in particularly this is so of the Christian life.

I trust that St James’s Day 2015 will leave those who have been confirmed with happy memories, and enable them to step out confidently and joyfully with Jesus whom they follow.

Source: The Spire Magazine - 2015 July

St James's Church
The Parish Church of St James, Hampton Hill, TW12 1DQ
Main site: