Tag Archives: Mission

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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last night 23 high school kids made shelters from cardboard boxes on the front lawn of our church. our first official lock OUT. the idea was to sleep outside in boxes in an effort to bring attention to homelessness in our community the night before the annual homeless awareness walk. the idea came about last spring or summer, though, in much warmer weather.

i don’t think anyone expected the 16 degree chill.

parents called the church saying their child couldn’t come (that’s fine). our numbers dropped a little.

but 23 brave souls still showed up.

and so did 4 news trucks.

awareness accomplished.

a few events in the evening that helped drive the point home:

1. mark, a homeless neighbor, came to the church to share his story and answer the kids questions. he gave us pointers on how to set up our boxes. he told us the key is to keep your hands, feet and head warm. he said he had no idea we were actually going to sleep outside ALL night, and he was so touched by what we were doing. gayle, a homeless lady i ran into at the coffee shop said the same thing, as did the mother of a homeless family sleeping IN our church last night. their appreciation made it a little easier to bare the cold with my kids.

2. one of our youth has been interviewing homeless people for two years, working on her gold award project for girl scouts. we watched a documentary she had put together. it was cool for the kids to hear from one of their peers how they can make a difference.

when all was said and done, 1 kid went home early, 13 kids went into the sanctuary (all curled up around the altar… pretty cute), and 9 kids braved the cold all night… along with 3 adults.

and then we walked 5k.

and then i went to class, fell asleep during the lecture, and got sent home 🙂

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after spending this week with over 40 middle school kids, sleeping on the floor of a downtown church, fixing peeps houses (which is significantly difficult with 8th graders) in the sun… i’m too tired to write anything eloquent…
not that i ever do…
but i will say that i learned a new burping game this week. apparently, every time someone burps, it’s cool to scream out random colors, “red! black! orange! canary yellow!” with no repeats… the last one to think of a color (and scream it) loses. the loser has to grunt. grunting is embarrassing. the end.

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