Sunday, August 17, 2008

Confirmation Sunday

Today was confirmation Sunday at St. Paul’s. It was confirmation for all students throughout the circuit. I thought it was a day that would be focused on children. (Silly me, there I go again anticipating something like it would be in the US.) Instead, about 80 adults were confirmed. Confirmation classes are for anyone, usually adults, who want to join the church. The confirmation classes started in February and were held once a week at 8:30 on Sunday morning. Yesterday the classes concluded with a test of what was covered. The service today was about 3 ½ hours long. About 18 or 20 of the confirmands were baptized, and then all were confirmed. As part of the confirmation service each confirmand was given a candle which was lit to remind them of the light of Christ. They were advised to light the candle each day, not because the electricity was out (a common Africa occurrence) but to remind them that the light of Christ is always with them. After the confirmation ritual, each confirmation teacher, the Pastors and main stewards individually shook each confirmand’s hand. It was a joy to see the hugs and smiles as each new member was welcomed into the church. Then after the sermon communion was served. Following the service lunch was served to the confirmands, teachers and Stewards.

I must admit at about the 3 ¼ hour mark, I had to get up and leave. I would have st Pretty much the entire service was in SiSwati, and I can only handle sitting not understanding what is being said for so long before I start getting real fidgety. I was well past my normal 2 hours of patience. If I had known it would end so quickly, I would have stuck it out a few more minutes.

Eighty confirmands is an impressive number by any standards. However, you must realize that these people came from societies (congregations) covering about one third of Swaziland, the majority of it very rural. I would guess less than 4 or 5 of the people have automobiles, which means they have to take public transport and walk. It probably took most people over an hour to get to church. What dedication. I wonder how many Americans would attend church regularly if it took so long to get there and cost what it does here. Sadly, I’m thinking I would probably find many excuses not to attend very often.

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