After too many weeks of metaphorically chasing a number of little furry concerns around the garden of my mind, I am finally getting some time to sit down and set out a vision/rumination piece I have due for Strategic Planning. At our first May meeting, when we were talking about working out where next we were called to as a parish in terms of identity and ministry I spent time talking about my personal experience of life in the Church being drawn in thought, word and deed from the Baptismal Covenant of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, page 304.
After years of working on this set of covenantal vows, I have come to the conclusion that if we really want to dig in to what it means from an ECUSA point of view to be a faithful Christian, we need to work from these 8 questions and answers. For the first three, pertaining to the nature of the Trinity, we cover our common ground. We believe in God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We affirm that God is the One who creates, redeems and sustains us. We make a commitment to the personhood, particular and historical, of Jesus the Christ.
The next five questions are where the rubber hits the road. We commit to common worship within an apostolic tradition and succession. We commit to the deepest posture of repentance for our sins, and to a lifelong willingness to seek reconciliation with both God and our fellow human beings. We promise to preach Jesus, unapologetically and honestly. We commit to life in community, and to love our neighbors as we do our own selves. Finally, most importantly right now...We commit to labor, strive and work for justice and peace in this life and toward the next. The kingdom is not going to ring in on its own. God's overarching and inbreaking self WANTS US to be a part of the restoration of all to new life.
So, with the bar set so very high, we get on with the business of being the Church. All else is adiaphora. My thought is to bring some discerning scrutiny to each part of the parish's common life in the Body, to evaluate its place in context with the Baptismal Covenant. Let's bring word and deed into line with the intent of our initiatory rites. Let's put our money, time and energy where our mouths seem to be most of the time, at least on Sunday mornings.
So, time to sit down with PowerPoint, Word and my BCP to do some writing and dreaming.