What should we do?

I grew up in one of the few remaining strongholds of the Anabaptist faith tradition.  From the Greek meaning “to re-baptize,” the name Anabaptist was a pejorative used by their opponents to highlight what was deemed the heretical nature of their baptismal theology.  Not unlike our conservative evangelical brothers and sisters, for the Anabaptist, if baptism is to be considered genuine, it must be coupled with an adult profession of faith.  The Anabaptists took this to the extreme, re-baptizing those who had been baptized as infants.  Of course, they don’t see it as re-baptism, since the first washing couldn’t have been a baptism because it lacked an adult confession.  It’s complicated.

Anyway, not too long ago someone who was baptized after the age of reason, but now as an adult is realizing that the faith of their youth has long since been stagnant, asked if one could be baptized more than once.  Of course, the answer is no, we believe in “one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all,” but as I re-read the end of Peter’s great sermon in Acts 2, I realized what my friend was really asking is, “brother, what should I do?”

The life of faith is lived minute but minute, one decision at a time.  We often fall short of the ideal, that is to say, we’re all sinners, and there are moments when the depth of our sinfulness becomes a weight too heavy to bear.  What should we do?

Peter tells the crowd to “Repent and be baptized.”  Those of us who have already been washed clean in the waters of baptism, don’t have that choice, but we certainly can “Repent and recall or renew our baptisms.”  Since we didn’t do the Easter Vigil, it has been a while since the Saint Paul’s community has had a chance to renew our baptismal vows, and since we’ve got this great moment from Acts as our first lesson on Sunday, since we’ll be at one of our favorite baptismal spots, on the shores of Week’s Bay

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it seems like a perfect opportunity to remember our own commitments, to renew our vows, and to decide yet again to live for the Kingdom of God.

The Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Celebrant  Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and
renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
People      I do.

Celebrant  Do you believe in God the Father?
People        I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

Celebrant  Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People        I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Celebrant  Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People        I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Celebrant  Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the
prayers?
People        I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant  Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
People        I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant  Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?
People        I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant  Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving 

               your neighbor as yourself?
People        I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant  Will you strive for justice and peace among all people,
and respect the dignity of every human being?
People        I will, with God’s help.

The Celebrant concludes the Renewal of Vows as follows

May Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and
bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sins, keep us in eternal
life by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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4 thoughts on “What should we do?

  1. Steve,
    We’ve had a number of people in that situation and we prepare them to do a reaffirmation of faith with our Confirmation class. (of course your question may have been much more rhetorical and you’ve probably already thought of this, but that’s been my answer to folks).
    I like doing the renewal of baptismal vows, though, and usually use it on all the days baptisms are encouraged, whether we have baptisms or not.
    Peace, Adam

    • Adam,
      I think Reaffirmation is certainly the right way to go for one who is active in a congregation, but for those floating at the fringes, looking for a way to maybe ignite their faith in a new way, I’m all about renewal. Thanks.

  2. I recently listened to a great lesson on the anabaptists..Dan carlin’s hardcore history. Great podcast if you haven’t come across it.

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