April 4: With God’s Help

Thank you for joining me on this 40 day journey of daily Lenten reflections.  When we began, Mother Emily encouraged me to commit to a daily discipline of writing, which has been far more intensive and far more gratifying than I ever imagined.  Thank you so much for your kind messages of warm support and encouragement as we plunged headlong into this generationally defining moment.  The Lord knew exactly what we needed, and if this exercise has in some small way served as connecting tissue between us then thanks be to God!  Unfortunately we’ve come to the end of the journey I signed up for….and the beginning of another.  While technically speaking Lent’s 40 days ends on Holy Saturday (minus the Sundays), for me Lent ends tomorrow as we make a home procession with homemade palm branches or some fir tree limb and shout “Hosanna to the highest heaven!”  Very popular with the neighbors!  My reflections will then turn to Holy Week using my 4th century pilgrimage hero Egeria, the Spanish nun who braved thousands of grueling miles to encounter first-hand the worship of Jerusalem under the celebrated bishop Saint Cyril the Great.  I will continue to write every day of Holy Week.

Then, since we find ourselves in this odd moment, I will continue to provide daily reflections for the Great Fifty Days of Easter as well.  If you keep reading I will keep writing to the Feast of Pentecost.  Thank you again for your kind enthusiasm!

But before we leave Lent, one more Lenten exercise to prepare us for next week….the Baptismal Covenant.  Since earliest days believers in Jesus have been baptized to welcome them into the Body of Christ, and in that process were prepared to answer some very serious questions.  The Baptismal Covenant grew out of that examination process prior to baptism for adult converts, intending to compass all the foundational, doctrinal dimensions of Christian faith.  Find it here.  The first three questions concern the identity, nature and purpose of the triune God, appropriately so.  Any statement of faith must be founded upon God, to which we respond Credo, or not in Latin, I believe.  Roman Catholics will immediately recognize the Apostle’s Creed in these questions, and in fact the term creed is derived from the Latin credere meaning to trust or posit complete belief in.  Before Lent, before the recitation of the Baptismal Covenant we make together during the Great Vigil of Easter, I invite you to check these answers in repetition again.  Do we in fact actually believe, actually trust, actually commit with utter abandon and ridiculous confidence our earthly lives, eternal souls, and life’s calling to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?!  Just sayin’…..

Then, much to the shock of many Episcopalians, another five questions follow which actually require us to make behavioral commitments based upon what we believe!  Whhaatt?!  Our believing shapes our behaving?!  If it didn’t, why in the heck would we be socially distancing at all right now?!  Yes, it does and needs to.  So, five questions committing us to specific, measurable action conclude the Baptismal Covenant.  As my spiritual director Jimmy Buffett opines, the answers are the easy part but the questions raise the doubt!  I will, with God’s help.  As we enter into Holy Week, I am painfully aware I have always focused upon the I will of those covenantal promises.  Not this year.  This Holy Week, I am officially on theWith God’s help bandwagon.

  1. Take time in your prayer corner/chair/home chapel to reflect upon the Baptismal Covenant.  Which question feels natural, resonant and peaceful to you right now?
  2. Which questions feels ginormously, ludicrously impossible to achieve in this corner of the multiverse right now?  (Hint: that’s the one we need to pay attention to this next week!)
  3. What other life commitments, covenants and vows have we made which need some attention?!

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