I will, with God’s help

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Celebrant Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and 
fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the 
prayers?
People I will, with God’s help.

We’re heading into Baptism season.

At least, it seem so to me. I know that Easter Vigil is the biggie for baptisms, that baptism can happen all year…but in my family, they happen in summer, in Pentecost. We celebrate baptism anniversaries in my household, and so for me when I think of baptism, has a taste of summer sun and strawberries and sweating in your nice clothes and that water sounding so nice and cool as it’s poured into the font.

Detail from the “Baptism Window” at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Memphis, Tennessee, created by Len R. Howard, mid-20th Century.

I’ve been sitting with the baptismal covenant in the book of common prayer more than usual this year, however, in the chilly winter and the arduous Lenten spring. As part of my work in lay ministry, I’m require to be Safe Church certified. As part of my process towards ordination, I was required to take a workshop in Multicultural Leadership and Communication. Both of these (long) days began with, and were structured around, our baptismal covenant. Before jumping into the nitty gritty of safe church legal requirements, of our racist past and our obligations to justice here in the present – we renewed our vows made at our own baptisms.

This was the WHY. We promised, with God’s help, to do many things. These training sessions were helping us to do those things.

I’ve been mulling on the vow above, about continuing the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers. That fellowship, relationship and sharing food, offering hospitality, celebrating Eucharist – these are things I have promised to do, with God’s help. In the same breath that I declared my belief and love of God, and her Son, and his Spirit, I vowed to break bread with my fellow Jesus-followers – to teach and learn with them, to pray with them, and to eat with them. To eat with them. We could do this over Zoom, over e-mail, over facebook…but I vowed to, in person, share food.

It is that important.

So what do we do?

Peasants breaking bread.
Livre du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio, 14th century. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Département des manuscrits, Français

The answer to these vows isn’t, “Yes, I will.” The answer is always, “I will, with God’s help.” The implication I’ve taken away all these years is that these things are hard to do. It’s hard to resist evil and see Christ in your neighbors and proclaim by example the Good News of Christ. With God’s help, if you please.

And also, I now believe after this year of revisiting them over and over, the implication is that these actions are only fulfilling the vow if done *with God’s help*. I can have a dinner party. But with God’s help, it will become fellowship. I can fight for justice, but I can only do so in a way that respects the dignity of every human being, every person, with God’s help.

As I enter Pentecost, and plan the celebrations for my family as we remember our Re-birthdays, I hope to continue these meditations. There’ s something here. I will, with God’s help.

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