Lent Week 5

During the season of Lent, I am leading a group study on baptism and the triduum at the Church of St. Matthew & St. Timothy in New York City.  We meet on Wednesday nights in English and Thursday nights in Spanish.  I am only posting the English handouts on the blog, but can provide Spanish translations on request.

Week 5: Wednesday, April 9

Mystery Informing Mission

In the Easter Vigil liturgy found in the Prayer Book, the Priest invites the people to renew their baptismal vows: “Through the Paschal mystery, dear friends, we are buried with Christ by baptism into his death, and raised with him to newness of life. I call upon you, therefore, now that our Lenten observance is ended, to renew the solemn promises and vows of Holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and all his works, and promised to serve God faithfully in his holy Catholic Church.”[1]

  • Look at the Baptismal Vows on pages 292-294 of the Prayer Book. What story do they tell?
  • Why do we make a practice of renewing our vows? What or who does the renewing of the vows serve?

Jeffrey Lee writes that: “The Baptismal Covenant says that faith is not simply a matter of giving intellectual assent to a series of propositions about God, but is a matter of lifestyle, behaviors, and concrete commitments.”[2]

We are not just Christians in the church, but in the world. Having been transformed, Louis Weil calls us agents of transformation: “The most common things in human life—a bath, food and drink, a human touch—can serve as instruments of an encounter with God. They can express a deep experience of human community and be signs of God’s grace in the fabric of human existence. So we may say that the starting point for a theology of Christian worship is to take the world seriously as the place where God acts. Or liturgical rites point to that activity, but they do not limit it. This insight offers us a guiding principle for the relation of each Christian to the world: the work of the church is not to escape the world, but to be the agent of transformation and healing whenever we encounter injustice, abuse, hatred or indifference. The ministry of each Christian, and of each Christian community is found right before our eyes. This helps us to understand why, during the early centuries of Christianity, a newly baptized Christian was referred to as “another Christ.” This had not so much to do with liturgical rites as with the fact that each individual Christian was called to be Christ in the place in which he or she lived. That is where ministry begins, and it is the work of every member of the church, not merely the ordained.”[3]

  • Next weekend we will renew our Baptismal Covenant. How will this renewal empower you to be an “agent of transformation and healing” in the world?
  • Think of the Paschal candle we will soon light with a “new flame” and think of the sparks you feel in your own life. Spend time reflecting on where you feel God tugging at your heart. Write some ideas down and consider them in prayer during these last days of Lent.

[1]Church Publishing, Book of Common Prayer Chapel Edition: Red Hardcover (Unknown: CHURCH PUBLISHING INC, 1979), 292.

[2]Jeffrey D. Lee, Opening the Prayer Book (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1999), 95.

[3]Louis Weil, A Theology of Worship (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 2002), 17.

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