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Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Special Day of Commitment and Renewal

Recently, Mo. Betsy and I had the privilege of teaching a series of Inquirer’s classes in preparation for Bishop Carranza’s visit on January 25th.  The classes were broadly intended for those preparing for either Baptism, Confirmation, or Reception.  The sacrament of Baptism and the related rites of Confirmation and Reception are the means by which individuals make and renew a commitment of faith lived out in the Body of Christ.  A diverse group of parishioners met on successive Sunday mornings to share a little bit of their faith journey while learning more about the baptismal life, the history and traditions of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, and the rich treasure of our Book of Common Prayer.  Some attended as parents of children to be baptized while others attended to learn more about the Christian community they have come to call ‘home’ after a long pilgrimage.  

One of the great pleasures of working with people as they come to more fully appropriate their faith is that it provides new and deeper insights into your own spiritual journey.  This is, for me, one of the real privileges of serving as priest.  Our faith is a corporate affair, a communal endeavor.  When we profess the articles of faith in the Nicene Creed, we start by saying, “We believe…”.  Certainly, each individual must make a choice to believe (and to make that choice actively again and again throughout life), but that choice is made and exercised most authentically in a community that can support and challenge us as we grow into the full stature of Christ.  Faith is a project, a life-long project.  We must work at being Christians, there is nothing automatic about it.  

While there is nothing automatic about being a Christian, eventually there does come an ease of effort from practicing the faith over the course of our lives.  As we worship joyfully, pray ceaselessly, give generously, learn and teach the faith purposefully, build relationships and community authentically, and share our gifts and talents earnestly we find that we become truly the people of God.  The great gift of ‘organized religion’ is the provision of a local community (we might use the term ‘parish’)  where we can confidently practice the Gospel way of life given to us by the Father in the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Please join me in celebrating the new or renewed commitments of our fellow Saint Mark’s family members who are being Baptized and Received on Sunday, January 25th.  Allow their ‘special day’ to remind you of your own baptismal day, your own day of confirmation in faith, and be renewed by the overflowing gift of grace we all share when any one of us welcomes the Spirit of God home.

in Christ’s peace, Fr. Andrew

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