The First Baptismal Vow
The baptismal rite of the church includes 5 vows. We will reflect on one of these each of the next 5 weeks. This is the first:
Baptismal Vow: To continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers
In this vow, we promise to remain in community with the original followers of Jesus, to learn from them, to participate in the group spiritual practice of the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, and to continue to pray to God for the healing of the world.
Baptism is a call to be a part of a community. This is a great comfort, as human beings need community for our security and growth. This is also a challenge, as human beings are fallible and complicated. Many people have grown very wary of the teachings of the church that we grew up with. So do we really want to “continue in the apostle’s teaching”? We can say “Yes” to this because we realize that our tradition includes deeply questioning our tradition. It is true that the followers of Jesus have made many mistakes, have been co-opted by their culture and have participated in and excused violence. We are not required to excuse their behavior.
In fact, just the opposite! This vow continues to remind us that we are unlikely to be perfect in our discipleship of Jesus. When we realize our own challenges in following Jesus, we realize we need the community of Jesus’ very fallible disciples.
After being welcomed in baptism, early Christians participated in a group spiritual practice of worship and the Eucharist. The word Eucharist means “thanksgiving.” Most prayers of the Eucharist include giving thanks for creation, for human beings and human community, for God’s love revealed in Jesus and for God’s continuing presence in the Holy Spirit. In this vow, we promise to continue this practice so that we can be come the bread and wine, taking part in the presence of Christ in the world.
In this vow, we promise to continue to pray for the healing and creation of the earth, and pray that we might participate in that healing and creation. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for God’s holy reign to come. As Martin Luther said, we do not pray that it will come, but we pray that it may come among us.
The life-long, daily practice of baptism means that we are a part of a community in the now, the past, and the future, that we share some common practices, even while we may express them differently. As in any human community, we may disagree with or see the shortcomings of others. We are invited to see that our shortcomings, like theirs, do not separate us from the love of God.
Read the Gospel Text for this week and Pastor Terry’s reflection or listen to the podcast. We encourage you to share your insights and questions on our Facebook page.