Category Archives: terrorism

A Baptismal Proclamation following Charlottesville

Yesterday, at the 10:30 liturgy, we baptized five children, four babies and one toddler. The sacrament of baptism is one of the most powerful liturgies of our church. In the language of the liturgy, we make a powerful declaration of our belief/faith (Credo– “I believe . . . “) in the words of the Apostles’ Creed. Such a declaration of belief of faith is an important public proclamation of our understanding of God and God’s saving message to us. But for me, while the declaration of belief/faith is hugely important, it is the series of questions in the baptismal covenant portion of the liturgy that is most profoundly important to me. In essence, this collection of questions asks us, “If we truly believe this, what will we do to make this real in our lives and in our world?” The questions of the liturgy guide us to consider elements of the Christian life and faith that call us to action or, as I so often say, call us to declare publicly we will live our baptism/faith in the world. Those questions are as follows:

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the
prayers?

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and , whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?

Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
being?

Notice the action words contained in these questions: continue, persevere, resisting, proclaim, seek, serve, loving, strive, and respect. Our baptismal covenant is not a passive proposition! We are not baptized to sit quietly in our private prayer closet and blissfully ignore the challenges of a broken and sinful world. We are not called into isolated solitude, unconcerned about the challenges and attacks visited upon the least or marginalized among us. We are called, in baptism, to be the Body of Living Christ in the world.

Beyond the action words, these questions of the baptismal covenant call us into the moral and ethical community of the apostles. Baptism calls us to be a living community of grace and love in the world, making the sacrament of our faith, bread and prayers, real and available to all. Baptism calls us to reject evil and confess our failings. Baptism challenges us to evangelism, to make the Gospel, real and palpable in the world. Baptism requires we reach out to all people, standing for justice, peace, and dignity for every human being.

To each of these questions, we respond, “I will with God’s help.”

I will–This is the declaration to action we affirm every time we celebrate a baptism. I will . . .

On Sunday, five young children were welcomed into the Body of Christ. As we presented them, I asked the congregation, on behalf of Christians everywhere, “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these children in their life in Christ?”. We replied, “We will.”

On Friday and Saturday, in Charlottesville, VA, our nation and our faith was shattered by unfettered evil, wickedness, and malevolence. The organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the neo-Nazis, the alt-Right, White Nationalists, and other related hate groups, must understand they are completely and totally rejected by the moral and ethical beliefs held by the Body of Christ—the Church. Such rejection must be clear, emphatic, and powerful. In moments like this, the faithful must be unrelenting in their public rejection of such manifestations of hate and evil. The Church has failed this challenge at historic moments in the past. We must not fail in the challenge we face in this present moment.

Five young children baptized on Sunday, with long and full lives before them, should expect us to live the faith we confessed as we presented them for baptism. God heard us when we confessed our belief/faith and responded to each question, “I will.” Each of us affirmed we will “do all in our power to support these children in their life in Christ.”

When my first daughter was born, as I reflected on the broken history into which she was born–of slavery, of the Nazi Holocaust, of the violent rejection by too many of the Civil Rights movement–I committed to never stand passively and allow such evil to progress unchallenged in her world. For each of my daughters, for all the children I have presented for baptism, and for my Lord and my God, I commit to unreserved and active rejection of those who promulgate hate, intolerance, racism, or any form of malignant, vile, and perverted evil.

The Charlottesville event and the rising, unfettered hate-movement reviving in our country is a challenge to the Body of Christ–the Church. Let us with courage, faith, and decisiveness reject the darkness of evil and hate in all its forms. Let us be the light of Christ in the world that overwhelms this present darkness. Let us make our baptismal covenant and our faith real and alive in the world.

Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Alt-right, Baptism, Confederate flag, episcopal, Episcopal priest, faithfulness, God's love, Holocaust, Justice, Nazi, racism, terrorism

Wind my clock

angel in despair

It is bleak mourning,

gloomy despair.

Is it real or a terrible, awful nightmare?

Is it the valley of the shadow death

into which we thoughtlessly stumble, guns drawn;

killing innocence,

killing black, killing blue,

killing me, killing you?

Alton, dead.

Philando, dead.

Patrick, dead.

Brent, dead.

Michael K, dead.

Michael S, dead.

Lorne, dead

. . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . .

Racism?  Yes.

Prejudice?  Yes.

Privilege?  Yes.

Injustice?  Yes.

Anger?  Yes.

Mistrust?  Yes.

Revenge?  Yes.

. . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . . dead . . .

I am hopeless,

worn with sorrow,

aching with sin, the mark is missed.

This wicked racist culture–

Are we white enough, Mr. Duke?

This pernicious gun culture–

Are we safe enough, Mr. LaPierre?

Numb my soul, break my heart.

Stick me with a needle,

see if I feel,

see if I bleed.

It is a deadly, deadly web we weave.

********

In March of 1973, E. B. White wrote to a Mr. Nadeau, who sought White’s opinion on what he saw as a bleak future for the human race.

30 March 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,

(Signed, ‘E. B. White’)

********

John 12.46:  I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

********

I will wind my clock . . .

Leave a comment

Filed under episcopal, gun violence, Justice, police violence, racism, sorrow, terrorism

Brussels’ bombings

Day 36 Page 2 “Brussels’ bombings”–Again, our hearts and souls are crushed by inconceivable violence.  There is no explanation.  Dead and wounded litter the byways of Brussels. There is no salve to heal the wounds of this insult to the human soul.  The dead are dead.  The wounded will live forever with their wounds.  The grieving will grieve without respite.  And never, never will this make sense.

I recall the opening quatrain of a poem by Emily Dickinson that seems to capture this complex, existential present (from “Last Night”)–

brussels bombingThe last Night that She lived

It was a Common Night

Except the Dying—this to Us

Made Nature different

It was a common day in Brussels, except for the dying—now everything is different.  We awaken to a different world, a sadder world, an ever more complicated world.  Oh that the elegant words of a poem could carry the dying away.

Alas, forgive me Lord, for I have sinned, for in my heart I respond to this violence with violence in my heart, wishing to crush the life from those who so blaspheme.  So, in me, blasphemy begets blasphemy and so goes the broken spiral of the Fall.  Forgive me Lord, for I know my sin only too well.

The Psalm appointed for this day in Holy Week offers a point for reflection:

Psalm 71:1-14

1 In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; *
let me never be ashamed.

2 In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; *
incline your ear to me and save me.

3 Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; *
you are my crag and my stronghold.

4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, *
from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.

5 For you are my hope, O Lord God, *
my confidence since I was young.

6 I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;
from my mother’s womb you have been my strength; *
my praise shall be always of you.

7 I have become a portent to many; *
but you are my refuge and my strength.

8 Let my mouth be full of your praise *
and your glory all the day long.

9 Do not cast me off in my old age; *
forsake me not when my strength fails.

10 For my enemies are talking against me, *
and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.

11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
go after him and seize him; *
because there is none who will save.”

12 O God, be not far from me; *
come quickly to help me, O my God.

13 Let those who set themselves against me be put to shame and be disgraced; *let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.

14 But I shall always wait in patience, *
and shall praise you more and more.

Let me hear your words God.

Let me know your presence.

Let me embrace your patience.

Meanwhile, God, relieve me of the desire for human revenge even as I require human justice against those who acted with such callous disregard and arrogance against all humanity.

1 Comment

Filed under brussels, episcopal, terrorism