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Yes, the Baptismal Covenant Is More Than Words

7 Mark’s Gospel B. the prelude image 3 of 4. Christ baptized. Ryley

In many Episcopal parishes today, members renewed the covenant they made with God at baptism. Our Catholic and Lutheran friends, among others, also use the baptismal covenant. Though the exact wording may vary, the basic structure is the same: a question-and-answer format where we renounce evil and vow to walk with Jesus.

On this Sunday, liturgical churches celebrate the Baptism of Christ, helping to remind us of that promise made. It’s also a time when many will make those promises for the first time, either for themselves or on behalf of a child they’re sponsoring in baptism.

In Christ, we join the ranks of God’s beloved. Because we have the Spirit of God in us, we are part of Christ’s mission of reconciliation and justice.

There is a lot of talk of opening the eyes of the blind, releasing prisoners from dungeons, and bringing those in darkness out of prison in the Isaiah 42:1-9. Even though this brings a lot of vivid images of physical blindness and literal prisons to mind, I think Isaiah was looking at a bigger picture here.

There are many who have become spiritually blind or prisoners through sin, human malice, or even emotional brokeness like depression, PTSD, or substance abuse. It often seems like the world’s brokeness rules the day, but the good news is that God’s redemption through Christ is there to bring us through it.

By choosing to live in companionship with Christ, we can experience healing and reconciliation, as well as help bring both to others. We should let the words of the baptismal covenant remind us of both this promise and our responsibility.


January 8, 2017 Posted by | Holidays/Feasts, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Don’t Snuff Out the Light

A recent reading from Luke demonstrates all too well how We Simply Don’t Get It Sometimes. Here, we read about people following Jesus being quite willing to refuse his mercy to others, which plays out all too often in terms of intolerance. As much as many professing Christians claim to let their light shine and be a good witness, many fall horribly short when it comes to discussing politics or religion, to use a good example.

I’ll admit, I’ve had a few times where I’ve almost “snuffed” out my own Christ-light when hearing or reading certain things about politics (religion, too, but political divisions have been more sharp). Someone I know recently asked me how I manage when someone makes a particularly insensitive remark or shares content implying they agree with the author’s assessment that the other side is stupid.

It’s not a simple answer by any means, but is best summed up in the baptismal covenant. When I affirmed this covenant for myself in confirmation,  I vowed to renounce Satan and also made other vows that included respecting the dignity of every human being.

Respecting the dignity of those who don’t return the favor is hard, since they often can’t see what they’re doing is wrong, God love ’em. However, there are two very different possible ways of dealing with such situations – one, I believe, is God’s way, the other is the other guy’s:

  • I could respect their worth as a child of God, realize that their story varies from mine and maybe influences how they see things, and pray for God to work in their hearts so they may treat others with love and respect
  • I could return the comments about ” Liberals are stupid”, “Perfect proof that all religions is BS”, etc. with comments in a similar vein, but it would, in the end, be more about my anger at being insulted than anyone respecting the other’s dignity

Even though the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran baptismal covenants are the ones best-known for including promises about our treatment of others, I think our treatment of people is a good litmus test of how well we’re actually renouncing the devil and his works. We are, after all, called to be representatives of Christ.

Something to think about: would your average discussion of politics or religion draw people to Christ, or push them away? Give it some thought the next time these types of issues come up.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Christian Living | | Leave a comment