Pastor's MessageGrace and Peace to you this day, friends and family of Bath Church!
I am writing this less than a week after the terrifying events in Charlottesville, VA, and I doubt it will be old news or unnecessary by the time you are reading it because there seems to be an awakening in our culture right now. We seem to be coming alive to the concept that we’re getting our words right, we’re learning to say the right thing and be politically correct, but we have a long way to go in terms of getting our actions and behaviors toward other humans to mirror our polite words.
By coincidence, our Sunday Worship Confession for the past few months has been the Belhar Confession, which was written in response to Apartheid in South Africa. In combination with the Confession of 1967, which was written in response to Nazi Germany, these confessions speak to where our denomination stands on racism and injustice in the world. They are both beautifully written, by committee; we say the right things! Now...the challenge for us as Christians is for our deeds to line up with our words. We need to pray that the Spirit will equip us to embody the resistance to white supremacy and racism and not simply say that we are against these evils. After all, faith without works is dead.
The words we use in our Presbyterian baptisms cannot go without notice either. As we are beginning our formal Christian journey, we are asked “trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?” Isn’t our baptism where it all begins? Isn’t Baptism the foundation of all Christian ministries of justice and reconciliation? Each time we enter into our worship space at Bath Church, we see our font with water in it and are invited to remember our baptism. Part of remembering our baptism is to remember our calling to renounce and resist evil in all its forms — including the evil of racism. Baptism is a sign of equality as Paul taught. Christ breaks down divisions between us. In many ways, baptism represents our initiation into God’s realm of justice, righteousness and peace where we are joined with the multicultural multitude of those God has redeemed.
We say it, now let’s do it! Let us live daily as baptized Christians fulfilling our earliest vows. And let’s do it together. The church is this amazing place where willing, faithful people come together to do God’s awesome work!
May this conversation be alive and well at Bath Presbyterian Church!
In Christ Jesus, Pastor Emily