“Here I am Lord…”

Blue skies and a warm summer sun welcomed an excited congregation to the church of St. Oswald, Preesall.  The doors were open wide to receive eleven candidates for Confirmation, their sponsors, family and friends.

Sunday, 9th July 2023, marked a huge milestone in the Christian lives of the candidates as they presented themselves for Confirmation, ready to build on the promises made on their behalf at their baptism.

The newly appointed Bishop pf Blackburn, Rt. Reverend Philip North, immediately engaged the congregation by speaking about his confusion over the current sporting event – the Tour de France.  He revealed how he struggled to understand the complexities of the race.  He then compared this to common misconceptions of Christianity and understanding of the Gospel.  Our human habit of making simple things unnecessarily complicated often diverts us away from the core of Jesus’ teachings.

Bishop Philip explained how the gospels are an invitation to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, who is alive today.  Quoting words from Matthew’s gospel (11:16-19), “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”, he explored the idea that Jesus is offering a relationship and a friendship which will last forever.  Today, through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the candidates are saying ‘yes’ to that invitation.  ‘Yes’ for today…and for all eternity though the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit lives to set us free,

Walk, walk, in the light

He binds us all in unity,

Walk, walk in the light…”


The Bishop asked the candidates, “Are you ready with your own mouth and from your own heart to affirm your faith in Jesus Christ?”  He then asked the whole congregation, “People of God, will you welcome these candidates and uphold them in their life in Christ?”  A resounding, “With the help of God we will”, filled the church.  Bishop Philip then led the candidates through the Decision part of the service, asking a series of challenging questions by the flickering flame of the Paschal candle.

Following a gathering of ministers and candidates round the baptismal font, where Bishop Philip sprinkled Holy Water on those nearby to remind them of their baptism, the Bishop addressed each candidate by name, laid his hands on them and prayed, “Confirm O Lord, your servant with the Holy Spirit”, before anointing each one with oil.

After Communion, during which the combined choirs from across the Benefice sang the anthem, “Spirit of God, unseen as the wind”, the Bishop commissioned everyone to continue in the apostles’ teaching, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Blessing was followed by the Bishop leading the newly confirmed through the church before returning for photographs and presentations.

Artwork adorned the walls of the church, generated during the confirmation course entitled ‘Passport to Confirmation’.  The name was chosen to reflect how Confirmation enables us to move on in our journey of faith, just as a passport enables us to travel on a journey.

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,

Consider all the works thy hands have made…”

A prayer for the newly Confirmed Christian from St. James’ Church – Maisie;

and the other ten from across the Over Wyre Benefice – Daisy, Millie, Diane, Henry, Evie, Lily, Sam, Tom, Georgie and Elsie:


Each moment of your life,

May you feel the Lord’s embrace.

May you sense His guiding presence,

In each challenge that you face.

May His peace and light be with you,

And may you realise,

How deeply loved and precious you are,

Within His eyes.