“I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.
And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." (Mark 1:8-11- NRSV))
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of your sin.?
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
These are questions from the Baptismal Covenant. This coming Sunday, “The Baptism of our Lord Sunday, in many churches we will renew our baptismal vows and remember our baptism
I love these questions. They point us directly to the actions required of us, We do have freedom and power. How we respond to the world around us is a choice. For those of us who claim to be members of Christ’s body, it should be a choice grounded in and guided by our faith. What we reject and what we claim are important. This is our witness to the world. We even sing, ”They will know we a Christians by our love…” I recently heard a comment that seemed to indicate that Christianity belongs in the sanctuary on Sunday morning but nowhere else. This person invoked the phrase “separation of church and state.” Nothing could be further from the truth! The phrase “separation of church and state” is shorthand for the Separation clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution which provides: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." In other words, the Separation Clause controls the actions of Congress, not the actions of Christ’s body! Our baptismal vows absolutely compel us to act in the world, to live out the tenets of our faith in the public square as well as at home and church. We are to renounce wickedness, reject evil powers and repent of our sins, even sins of silent complicity. We are to resist evil, oppression and injustice. Many of us have become a people unwilling to speak out. Many of us have become a people unwilling to share our faith in the public square. We are in breach of our baptismal vows. Let us renew our vows daily that we might rise with Christ and the Spirit might descend upon us as the beloved in whom God is well-pleased.
Please pray with me. Lord, take from us fear to take a stand against evil, injustice and oppression. Give us eyes to see these things when they present themselves which is often in insidious and hidden forms, that we might live out our baptismal vows as faithful members of Christ’s body.
Kate Croskery Jones