… with God’s help.
We don’t have a baptism this week, but because I spend every moment of free time reading about rites of initiation in preparation for Sewanee this summer, I can’t help but think about it. All. The. Time. The Baptismal Covenant has been particularly on my mind this week as my best summation of how Mirabai Starr might be applicable to my ministry context is, “take seriously the vows made in baptism.” Her basic premise is that love is the starting place for all the world’s religions – especially the three Abrahamic faiths – and therefore we are called not just to tolerate one another, but to love and even experience the faith of another.
While I won’t be engaging in the 5 Daily Prayers of Islam or attending services at a Synagogue anytime soon, I do think that she has a point that speaks a hard truth to our highly polarized society. Heck, 75% of the time, we can’t even love those who disagree with us in our own faith tradition, let alone those who we don’t know or understand. Her call to love, as I said earlier this week, is very Christian. Our Gospel lesson for Sunday makes it clear, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Still, while I don’t subscribe to the doctrine of total depravity and though I believe that Genesis is clear that creation was made “very good,” I will say that her trust in the goodness of humanity is probably a bit high for my taste.
Instead, as I said above, when it comes to living out the love commandment, I turn to the Baptismal Covenant, which, it should be noted, is unique within Anglicanism to The Episcopal Church, that is to say, we should be the example of love for the world around us, even to our fellow Christians. In that 1979 addition to the Baptismal Service, five questions were added to the Creed, indicating that this faith that we subscribe to has ramifications for our lives. Those ramifications could be described as love. Two are of particular interest to the topic at hand:
- 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?
The answer to these questions, as I discussed last week, is “I will, with God’s help.” Which is the crux of the whole matter. We live out the example of Christ’s love for the world through the help of the Holy Spirit. We love because God loves us. Love is an impossibly simple thing to do, thankfully we have both an example and helper for it.