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.

Activity: Well of 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

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
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

The truth that, in the Christian life, we belong to and need one another is easier to accept with some people than others. Br. Curtis Almquist invites us to the practice of “philonexia,” love of the stranger, for in the Good News of Christ, there are no strangers.

Question: What is the core of the Gospel (“Good News”) for you?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Well of Life


Transcript: We cannot do this alone.  You cannot do this alone.  We need one another.  The metaphor that’s used in the epistles about our being followers of Jesus is that we’re members of a body.  The fact that not everyone is a head, or not everyone is a heart, or not everyone is a foot, or a kidney, doesn’t mean that they are not essential.  We all need one another and we belong to one another.  And so when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, Jesus leaves us with what we call the Lord’s Prayer.  And, you know, it’s plural, “Our Father who art in Heaven…Give us…Forgive us,” it’s presuming that we belong to one another, that we are partnered with one another, that we need one another.

This is easier to imagine with some people than with others.  And yet I think what is often times true is that what could appear to us as a stain on someone else, as something that we might find repelling, or might elicit our judgment is probably not a stain. It’s probably a scar that they won well, and that we would be greatly moved if we learned more about them, more about people whom we find are different, maybe even repelling.

There is a fascinating word that’s used in the letter to the Hebrews, and that is the word for the love of strangers, philonexia.  It’s exactly the opposite of xenophobia, which is being afraid of strangers, or put off by strangers.  The letters of the Hebrews says this reminder to love the brothers or sisters, and do not forget the stranger, because there are no strangers to Jesus.

My suggestion to you is to reflect on why is it that you are a follower of Jesus.  What is at the core of the gospel for you?  Remember, gospel is good news.  So what is good?  What is good that is compelling, and is transformative in your life?  And what is news?  News is different than olds.  What is news?  How is God coming to you, meeting you, inviting you, serving you, serving through you to others.  If someone were to ask you what is the core of the gospel, could you give them an answer in – let’s say – three sentences, which would be demonstrated both by your lips, what you say, and by your life, what you do.

– Br. Curtis Almquist

Question: What is the core of the Gospel (“Good News”) for you?

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
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

The second “Mark of Mission” invites us all to share in baptizing new believers. Br. Nicholas Bartoli explores how we can help others share in the “baptism of Spirit,” the inward grace that baptism by water recognizes and remembers.

Question: Who in your life can you help by bringing the baptism of the Spirit to them?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Well of Life


Transcript: This week we’re looking at the second mark of mission, teaching, baptizing, and nurturing believers.  For me, the word that stands out there is baptizing, and when I think about what it might mean to baptize believers, or help them be baptized, I think especially about the typical Lent period of preparation for baptism.  So in days of old, Lent was very important for the community to come together and help those preparing for baptism be baptized.

Now there are two kinds of baptism generally.  There is the sacramental form, which we’re familiar with, the baptizing of someone with water sort of as a symbol and a sign of something that’s going on internally, which is the second form, the baptism of spirit.  Both John the Baptist and Jesus both talk about these two types of baptism – of water and spirit.  Sometimes the baptism of spirit is referred to as a baptism of fire.  And I guess the way they might relate is that the baptism of water is a symbol pointing to the inner reality of this baptism of the heart, of this sort of new relationship that we find with God through Christ.

And of course this raises the question – I mean for something like that, something that seems to be more in the arena of grace given by God, you know – “What can we do as fellow believers to help someone experience that kind of baptism, that kind of turning toward Christ, that baptism of the heart?” And I think really it’s very simple.  I think all forms of true spirituality involve this idea of remembering.  We’re not really learning anything new in this kind of baptism.  We’re sort of remembering something we’ve already known but have forgotten somehow.  So perhaps as a community, we need to come together and just sort of remind ourselves of what God’s truth is.  And how do we do that?  By giving ourselves in service out of love for each other.  And through those simple acts of love and generosity, help each other come to this form of baptism, this baptism of the spirit, this in-dwelling of Christ.  So we might ask ourselves: Are there people in our lives that we can think of that we might be able to help by serving out of love, by bringing the baptism of spirit to them?

– Br.Nicholas Bartoli

Question: Who in your life can you help by bringing the baptism of the Spirit to them?

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
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

We are called to the continual work of formation in the Christian life, yet it can be easy to drift into complacency. Br. John Braught discusses how the sacraments of the church help ground us in the accountability of true Christian fellowship.

Question: In what ways are you helping form others? In what ways are you being formed?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Well of Life


Transcript: The second mark of mission, “Teach, baptize, and nurture new believers,” is about formation.  We are continually called as believers to grow, change, convert, invite God more and more into our lives, and we’re called to help others do the same.  But there can be a tendency, I think, to drift into complacency if we aren’t held accountable or driven by some need to grow.  We can settle for good enough, and that’s not God’s will for us, I don’t think.

The shape that formation has taken in the church has been in the form of the sacraments: baptism, confirmation, confession, communion, holy orders, marriage, anointing the sick.  Now all of these sacraments deal with accountability.  Baptism and confirmation, which is the adult affirmation for baptismal vows, a sign in community of something that has happened to us, of new life being given to us.  Confession, obviously sharing ourselves with another person.

Accountability is so important in the Christian life because Christian fellowship that calls us to grow is based on mutuality, not hierarchy as is often supposed.  It’s not as if one person, a priest for example, has all the information.  But a true Christian fellowship is based on giving and receiving, helping others and being helped by helping them, allowing yourself to be helped, and thereby helping others by letting them help you.

Now many people that I have met – and I, myself, can be guilty of this – have an easier time helping than being helped.  But both are essential for our own growth and for the growth of others, and for the growth of the community.

In what ways are you helping to form others?  In what ways are you being formed?

– Br. John Braught

Question: In what ways are you helping form others?  In what ways are you being formed?

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
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

Jesus constantly asks questions that force people to pause, to reach down within themselves, and to discover their own deepest desires. Br. Keith Nelson encourages us to bring such a questioning approach to our experiences of worship.

Question: How is your experience of worship an expression of God in your life?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove


Transcript: Some of the teachers that I have encountered in my life that have made the most lasting impact on me weren’t – they were teachers who had a huge range of knowledge in the field in which they taught – but they’re primarily people who knew how to ask the right question.  People who were such artists at teaching that they were able to ask questions in such a way that they forced me to pause, and to reach deep within myself for the resources of knowledge and perhaps even the resources of wisdom within myself to grow as a student.

So when we think about teaching, baptizing, and nurturing new believers, or all of us believers (because in a way we’re all new, we’re all novices at the way of Christ), if we think about the kinds of questions that Jesus asked, the kind of teacher that Jesus was, we see this way in which Jesus constantly asks questions that force people to pause, to reach down within themselves, to touch the desire that animates their life, that animates their spirit, and to bring forth a response that brings them closer to God in that encounter with this master teacher, Jesus.

In the early church, there were sort of two primary stages in the initiation of early Christians that I find really compelling.  Catechesis, this period that would last for all of Lent, and then people would be baptized at the Easter vigil, having been prepared in that season of Lent.  And then there would be a period of time from Easter to Pentecost, during which these new Christians who had been initiated into the mystery of Baptism, and the mystery of the Eucharist, will go through something called Mystagogy.  Mystagogy, which sounds a little bit like the word we have “pedagogy,” the leading or guidance of children. Mystagogy can be translated as the interpretation of the mysteries – in this sense the mysteries of Baptism and the Eucharist.  But also leading people deeper into the mysteries of the Christian faith.

I attended an adult Christian formation conference once that spoke about mystagogy in the contemporary church as the loving interrogation of our faith.  It truly kind of captivated my imagination that we have this loving interrogation.  So one thing that I have tried with our interns here, is that liturgically the Episcopal Church is so rich, and we’re swimming in this sea of liturgy all the time.  But I think we don’t always realize the ways in which our liturgy is a missional tool, if we stop to process it, to ask questions about our experience of it, and to appropriate the lessons that God may be taking us through our liturgy in our every day experience.

So what we have done with our interns is we have had a mystagogy session after the Great Vigil of Easter here at the monastery, where I simply ask our interns, “What do you remember doing?  What do you see?  What words did you say or sing?  What did you smell?  What do you remember about the experience?  And then how did it make you feel, just that honest, raw question of what feelings did you have?”  And then a third question, “What of God did it reveal to you, or is it revealing to you still as you look back upon that memory of that liturgical experience?”

So today you might reflect on how the liturgy on how your experience of worship has been an expression of the mission of God in your own life.

– Br. Keith Nelson

Question: How is your experience of worship an expression of God in your life?

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
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

Are you familiar with Jesus’ teaching of the “great commandment”: to love God “with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself”? Br. Jonathan Maury hears in these familiar words not an imperative, but an invitation; not something we need to achieve, but something we are called to receive.

Question: How have you experienced God’s love? How does that experience inform how you love others?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Well of Life


Transcript: Shortly after I left college, I returned to my home parish and was invited almost immediately to become a catechist.  Now a catechist is one who teaches, baptizes, and nurtures new Christians, at least preparing them for holy baptism, but also nurturing in the faith as a follow-up.

The first rite in the catechumenate, this ancient process for preparation for Baptism, involves the admitting of the catechumen.  And it begins with a simple question, “What do you seek?”  The response is “Life in Christ.”  And to underscore what this life in Christ is about, it is immediately followed by the great commandment, what we know as the summary of the law in the version that comes from Chapter 12 of Mark’s gospel.  Jesus says, “Hear oh Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength.”  Jesus immediately adds a second commandment, which is like the first, and this one from the Book of Leviticus.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Now I think we’re often faced perhaps with the sense that this great commandment is an imperative, you know, “You shall.  You shall.  You must, by pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, working, achieve this way of being, and if you don’t, you’ve failed somehow to be a recipient of God’s grace and love.”  But I think this is contrary completely to what Jesus was saying.  Jesus was speaking of a loving response of God saying to us, “This is my purpose for you.  This is my loving intention for you that you may come to love in a mutual relationship me in my fullness.  Come to know how you are loved by me and thereby be able to love others.”  There is that loving of others that is the teaching, baptizing, and nurturing that we speak about in this mark of love.

So we don’t have an imperative anymore, we have instead an invitation to mutual relationship, to fullness of life, to being taught ourselves by God, and being able to impart the good news of that love of out to us for others that they be nurtured and taught themselves.

How have you experienced God’s love, and how does that experience inform how you love others?

– Br. Jonathan Maury

Question: How have you experienced God’s love?  How does that experience inform how you love others?

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
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

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
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

Br. David Vryhof introduces the third week’s activity, the “Well of Life,” which invites us to pray with and reflect on the Baptismal Covenant throughout our day.


Transcript: In this third week of our program, we’re considering the Second Mark of Love or Second Mark of Mission, which is teaching, baptizing, and nurturing new believers.  The exercise we’ve designed for this week is entitled Well of Life.  And it’s a way of exploring this faith that we’re nurturing and encouraging in one another.

In the left-hand column, you’ll find five questions.  These five questions come from the Baptismal Covenant – the five promises that each of us makes as part of our baptism.  The questions are as follows:  First, will you continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?  Second, will you persevere in resisting evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?  Third,  will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?  Fourth, will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?  And fifth,  will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

What we would like you to do with these five questions is first of all, to compose a prayer at the beginning of the day.  Select a question that you’ll carry with you through the day, and write a short prayer.  For example, the fourth question is “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”  So you might write in here as a prayer, “Today, Lord, help me to seek you, to see you and to serve you in the people that I meet, or perhaps in one particular person that I’m aware that I’ll be encountering today.”  So we express our desire to live out this question in a prayer in the second column.

And then at the end of the day, we reflect on our experience of this.  How has this question been present with us through the day and how has it shaped our interactions.  What have we noticed?  What did we do differently or how did this question affect the way we were living today?  And just write a note to yourself in the third column that reminds you of how this question impacted you today.

There are five questions, one for each of five days.  Take a question and live with it through the day.  Pray it and try to lean into what it is asking of you.

– Br. David Vryhof

As Christians, we belong to God and to one another. In the second “Mark of Love” we are called to help nurture God’s love within one another. As Br. David Vryhof explains in this introduction to the third week of the series, community is a necessity of Christian life because we are people of love who are called to encourage one another in this new life.

Activity: Well of Life


Transcript: In our baptisms, we are “sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.”  We belong to God.  And we belong to God not only as individuals but as a collective body.  Christianity is a communal religion.  We are joined in baptism to other believers in the Body of Christ.  We belong to one another as well.  And in this Body, we have the function of supporting and helping one another, nurturing God’s life within each individual member.

So this week we’ll be focusing on the Second Mark of Love, or the Second Mark of Mission, which is “to teach, to baptize, and to nurture new believers.”  And in a sense, it’s not just new believers, but all of us believers, who are stepping into this new way of life and who need teaching and encouragement along the way.

The life of God within us is a life to be learned, and to nurture, and to grow.  We learn from one another a different way of living in the world.  We help one another understand the different values of life in the Kingdom.  We help one another embrace Jesus’ love and life within us and to participate with one another’s support and encouragement in the mission of God in the world.

So community is never an option for a Christian, or just an alternative that we can choose or not choose.  It’s a necessity for Christian life.  And it is an important part of the church’s witness and work in the world to nurture, and to teach, and to grow believers.  This has been true from the very beginning.  Jesus gathered around him a community of disciples and these disciples formed communities of early believers who lived out the message in the world, and who demonstrated the life of God, and the ways of the Kingdom, in the way that they related to one another, in the way that they treated one another and treated others, in the way that they expressed their love for God and for one another.  We are a people of love who have been born from love and are called to live in love.  And to live in love means to live in unity and peace with one another.

And so in this Second Mark of Mission, we encourage one another in this new life.  We build up one another.  We help one another to move deeper into the reality of living in God’s Kingdom.  We are looking forward to sharing with you some of our ideas and to encourage you to think and meditate on your own participation in the collective life of God’s people, the Church.

– Br. David Vryhof

Week 3 Activity: Well of Life
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