Saturday, April 25, 2009

And Yet . . .

I went to a regional meeting for my denomination earlier this week. Such meetings are typically best described as bureaucratic agony occasionally interrupted by curious insight or bubbling controversy. There was no shortage of either this time; an ongoing scuffle about the fate of some of the denomination's property holdings, a passionately problematic statement of faith by a soon-to-be-unanimously-ordained new clergy, a hard push for a new church-innovation program in our area, a visit from the titular head of the denomination in Cuba, and conspiratorial machinations at every corner of the building. The only thing I could discern a shortage of, actually, was the coffee. Thanks for nothing, denomination.

I tease because I care. But prior to all the minor irritations and occasional arbitrated conflicts was a service for worship. The service was built around a reminder of our baptism, linking that baptism to the Jews' exodus from Egypt that passed through the Red Sea and secured their deliverance. The preacher acknowledged on behalf of all of us that it's wonderful to be chosen by God, but we are nonetheless challenged by the journey he has chosen us for--challenged by the circumstances that attend to any such journey, yes, but also challenged by the limitations we discover in ourselves. In an attempt to keep both those aspects of our experience in view, we recalled the profession of faith made at our baptism but also the very real ways we violate that profession in such mundane ways. I found it to be one of those moments of curious insight, so I thought I'd give it space here.

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L. Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its powers in the world?

P. We do and yet we choose to be servants to sin, making false idols of material objects and other relationships in our lives that distract us from God's gracious goodness and abundant mercy.

L. Who is your Lord and Savior?

P. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and yet I turn away from those most in need of His love. I reject and fear those whom Jesus welcomed into salvation and find myself a servant to my own needs and desires, forsaking the true community in the body of Christ.

L. Will you be Christ's faithful disciple, obeying his word and showing his love?

P. I will, but only through the guiding power of the Holy Spirit, the everlasting love of Jesus Christ, and the transforming grace of God.

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