In the Name of that Spirit among us Who is One, Holy, and Living, drawing us into community, calling us to be one, and sharing love with us all.
Our lessons brought me to this question, for what were we baptised?
From our reading we hear the very first words of Scripture. They tell us of the creation story, to let us know that from the beginning all that was created was a gift from the Holy One. From the beginning the light breaks forth into the darkness and the void, and we have light and life. Everywhere the light shines is holy ground, created for good. “And God saw that the light was good.”
Today there seems to be a lot of darkness caused by humanity and we need that light shining in the darkness to bring us life. Were we not baptised for this?
In psalm 29, the psalmist writes, “The LORD shall give strength to his people”. We are given strength as we join all that is good and holy as we connect in our faith community. Then as we set about the task of sharing that holy good, that goodness grows exponentially. For this we were baptised.
I happened to watch last month the Episcopal Church of the pacific islands where the indigenous people are primarily the Maori people. They spoke of the mission of the church, they spoke of, for this we were baptised. They presented the biggest challenge to the people of the entire pacific region, rising sea levels which will take away their homes, their islands, and their livelihood. The pollution of the waters is choking marine life’s very existence. Plastic waste in the water is floating in huge formations causing untold harm to all life. When we begin to open our hearts to the people of the world we are today challenged. We are today challenged by the growing darkness covering the land, the deep gloom that is enshrouding the people because sea levels are rising at rates not imaged and an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life, healthy communities, and critical infrastructure. The psalmist cries out, “The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; * the LORD is upon the mighty waters.” For this we were baptised.
The Episcopal Church just published our priorities for the Office of Government Relations. The first is Creation Care: The Episcopal Church supports policies that protect the natural resources that sustain all life on Earth. Our advocacy includes greenhouse gas emission reduction, a just transition away from fossil fuel energy, and safeguards to protect clean water and clean air. I cannot share all that is stated, but it is readily available, and here I will summarize. The second priority for the Episcopal Church is Racial Reconciliation: challenge long-established policies that perpetuate systemic racism and injustice. Third is Ending Poverty: policies that will eliminate poverty and help people live with dignity, both in the U.S. and internationally. We advocate for federal programs that provide development assistance and humanitarian relief, including education and healthcare initiatives, as well as support for social safety net programs, care for veterans, [and more] …. . Fourth, Immigration and Refugees: comprehensive immigration reform through policies that respect the dignity and worth of every human being. Fifth and last, Human Rights and Peacebuilding: The Church supports legislation and policies that protect human rights and prevent atrocities, promote gender justice, and build peace. For this we were baptised.
I was struck by how much of our vision is captured in ideas already bursting forth. The voices of Greta Thunberg, Black Lives Matter, The Poor People’s Campaign, and the Green New Deal are all echoed in the words of the Episcopal Church priorities for government relations. But what I want you to hear as well, are the voices of Isaiah, and Miriam, Hannah, and Mary, of John the Baptist and Jesus. For this we were baptised to call for repentance, and invite others to the forgiveness of sin we find here. We are called this day as a people to be baptised with a purpose to right the wrongs of society, and be like Jesus and John the Baptist. We are baptised by the Holy Spirit to add to the power that will transform the people, and the world. Yes, for this we were baptised.
May it be so.