Well of Life: Week 3 | Day 7
Do the promises of the Baptismal Covenant ever feel abstract or distant to you? Patrick Burrows shares how completing the “Well of Life” activity helped him to claim and commit to these promises in his daily life.
Transcript: For many, if not most of us, the promises of the baptismal covenant might feel a bit distant. You may, like me, be relatively new to the Episcopal Church and didn’t make any kinds of covenantal promises at your baptism, or you may have been a small child and had godparents say those promises on your behalf, or you might have been baptized in the Episcopal Church, but before the Book of Common Prayer 1979 added baptismal promises.
One thing that I realized working on this exercise over this week was that, through meditating on these, I could make the baptismal promises a part of my own life. I could make them my own, something more real and vibrant in the way that I lead my daily life.
Two of these in particular stood out for me. The first is the first promise: “Will you continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship, the breaking of the bread and the prayers?” And I thought about how often we tend to disconnect these things, where teaching and fellowship tend to be separated in our lives in the way that we conduct our spirituality. How teaching in prayer and teaching and breaking bread in our own fellowship and our personal prayers tend to be sort of disconnected as we scatter ourselves over the course of our life.
But I thought about how we might make these as one whole practice, as one whole commitment that we make, such that teaching, and fellowship, and prayers, and breaking of bread are our whole schooling for the Kingdom of God, by which we participate and prepare ourselves for that Kingdom here and now.
The second one that really stood out was the fourth, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” As I was going about my day thinking about this, a practice would naturally emerge out of this. Instead of walking around Harvard Square and seeing all of the tourists, and other students, as in my way, preventing me from getting from one class to another, or to that coffee shop, or wherever I was going, was to look at them each individually as a child of God. To try to encounter them as another person, as another person full of Christ, as Christ is there to teach me something in that moment. And what this did was it shifted the way that I encountered these people that I encountered myself, that I encountered what kind of relationship I had with all of the people that I pass on a daily life in order to try to see Christ in them.
– Patrick Burrows
This activity invites you to explore the Baptismal Covenant in prayer and reflection during your day and throughout the week. Each morning, write a short prayer based on that day’s question from the Baptismal Covenant. Each evening, reflect on how you are living into this aspect of your faith.
Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity
Patrick’s witness has enlightened me. When I first looked at this exercise, I read the five questions, and it was like “yeah, I’ve answered all these before, several times. Been there, Done that.” I guess maybe I thought that I was “above” this exercise. Then I made the excuse that I have to go to work early, and I didn’t want to take the time to do this in the mornings, so maybe I’ll look at them in the evenings. Yet, each evening this week, I was compelled to read the day’s question, and I reflected on them a bit. And I came to realize that these questions which seem so “automatic” as part of church service are really not all that easy to answer honestly if you really think about the essence of the question.
So this morning, day seven, I started over with the first question, and I immediately got hung up with the “continuing with the apostles’ teaching” part. Really? I frankly haven’t studied their teachings well enough to try to teach them to anybody else. And I really don’t like the idea of going out and trying to teach people things that they may not know they want to hear. But I did write a prayer asking for help with this.
Patrick’s witness this evening was perhaps my answer. I can still teach people about the apostles’ teaching because really, what they were talking about was Jesus’s teaching. And I’ve long felt that fellowship and breaking bread with people is holy anyway. And prayers? I can work on that too.
Patrick’s insight into the fourth question really hit me, though. I’ve long been one to look for the “good” in other people, rather than looking for the “different”. But I haven’t always thought to carry that over to random strangers (or drivers) on the street. And he is right-on. They are all children of God, too. It’s time for me to take a new viewpoint about strangers. And all the other questions on this sheet.
So I’m going to continue this now, into next week, and actually get up a little earlier for a few days to read the next lesson and write my prayer.
I have long loved the celebration of Holy Baptism. I particularly like that we, as Episcopalians make these vows each time we are priviledged to be wittness to and participate in a baptism of infant,child or adult.
I resonanted with Patrick’s reflection today. I had never thought of looking at people around me and in all situations as an act of looking at Christ and sensing what He is Telling me, Asking of me, or that he is Healing me. I will be more conscious of this and receptive to it. Thanks