The months-long suspension of in-person worship required in response to the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a disorienting experience for church-folk throughout the world. Added to the need for physical distancing in nearly every aspect of daily life, some experience the interruption of regular religious assembly and fellowship as a painful loss. Though alleviated to some degree by the use of technological capabilities for online gathering, the inability to partake of the sacraments is a profound grief for many. In the disruption of accustomed, habitual practices, the temptation to turn inward in despair and inertia is great.
But now our world languishes and groans in the midst of disease and death and the exposure of long-standing hatred, prejudices, injustices and inequities, all the result of human sin. Christians must relinquish self-concern and fear and give themselves, individually and corporately, to steadfast witness of our Creator’s goodness and love.
In his Letter to the Romans, Paul points us to our baptismal death to sin as the source of new and abundant life in Christ, both for ourselves and for the world which Jesus came to save. “You also must consider yourselves dead to dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 6:11]
By our union with Christ in the baptismal mystery of his dying and rising we find our unity and meaning in life as his disciples. The Baptismal Covenant which we profess together in the Apostles’ Creed points to the present and eternal reality of our oneness with God, with one another, and with the whole Creation. Our re-birth in Holy Baptism through water and the anointing Spirit has marked us “as Christ’s own for ever”, a new creation reflecting the glory of God in our very being. Through three renunciations of evil and sin, and through three pledges to “turn” to the obedience of our Lord and Savior’s grace and love, we have been given power to be God’s children and messengers of the Good News of God in Christ now.
As followers of Jesus, and as his sisters and brothers born of God we must not, in these challenging times, let our love grow cold or allow our commitment to prayer and service slacken. Therefore I invite, no, exhort you in the coming week to reflection on the liturgy of Holy Baptism in the Book of Common Prayer [p. 299ff.]. Ask our Lord to renew your vocation and calling by re-enacting the vows made at the Presentation and Examination of the Candidates. Trusting in God’s unfailing help, prayerfully review the Baptismal Covenant (Creed and questions following) to discern where and to what and to whom you are to turn for Christ’s sake each day. Offer the litany of Prayers for the Candidates for yourself and for us all. May we be brought to urgently desire the fulness of Jesus’ peace and the glory of his resurrection already at work within us!
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed on us your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised us to the new life of grace. Sustain us, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give us inquiring and discerning hearts, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
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