Living the Baptismal Covenant

This past Sunday we celebrated two baptisms. The nave was filled with the sounds of children, choir, and other participants all taking their part in the worship experience. The nave was also filled with the scent of incense, its rising smoke taking our prayers, and the prayers of all the saints, up to the heavenly throne of God.

As we focused on the baptisms of Daphne and JD, we also remembered our own baptismal vows. Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

These are promises we make four times a year (Baptism of Christ, Easter Vigil, Pentecost, and All Saints' Day/Sunday). These are promises we should be trying to live into every day of our lives. And yet I can't help but think about all the times we don't.

Our country has somehow descended to a point where outright lies are cast as “alternative facts.” The sins and evils of racism (both individual and institutional), anti-Semitism, Christian Nationalism, and misogyny are on the rise. How willing are we to stand up and speak out in resisting those evils?

In the face of the bad news of the world, do we proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? Do we find opportunities to tell people why we are Christians and Episcopalians? Do we offer a message of hope to those who are suffering? Do we strive for justice and respect the dignity of every human being?

I bring this up because I am leading a small-group discussion through the program of Sacred Ground, a program put together by the Episcopal Church to confront issues of racism and white privilege. And while I am aware of how our country was built on stolen land, stolen people, and stolen labor, being aware is only part of the overall picture. It is heartbreaking to see and hear stories of how Native American peoples were systematically wiped out by European settlers. It is heartbreaking hear how the Europeans committed atrocities and used the media of the day to place the blame on those whom they killed. It is heartbreaking to see and hear stories of how Christians in general, and the Episcopal Church in particular, worked to stamp out native culture. And this doesn't even begin to address African people stolen from their land and homes to serve as slaves.

If we are to persevere in resisting evil and to respect the dignity of every human being, we must begin to acknowledge how we participate in and benefit from systems of racism and other evils. This is not easy and it is hard work; but it is also necessary work if we are help usher in the kingdom of God.

Among other things, I pray that the baptismal vows we make four times a year will one day become a lived reality for all people.



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