Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Echoing our vows

When I was ordained to the deaconate at Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, SC in June of 1993 I was handed a bible, "The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha Expanded Edition.   It is leather bound, black, heavy, a little floppy (think Billy Graham) and . . . seldom used.
Don't get me wrong I read a Bible everyday, either electronically or from among the other 20 plus translations and copies I own.  I even have another "New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha Expanded Edition."
I seldom read from my ordination Bible BECAUSE it is special.  I want to use it as a symbol as much as a tool, as a milepost as much as a map.  Maybe you have something like this in your life.  A piece of wedding cake?  Some jewelry? An article of clothing?
But the marker IS a reminder that at a specific time and place in my life I committed to those ordination vows, gave up my life as a lay person (including my parish membership), was blessed and with the laying on of hands made a deacon.
There is something about our vows that begs an echo, a reminder, a re-upping.  When we celebrated as we did this past Sunday with Bishop Whitmore's help we all participated in echoing the first vows I made as an Episcopalian. Vows I made in May of 1989.  They are the vows of the Baptismal Covenant.
As Anna, Daisy Jane, Debbie, and Holly and the several others who presented themselves to the Bishop in reaffirmation and as I accepted your call to serve this parish as Rector WE ALL renewed our baptismal vows.  The echoing refrain of "I will with God's help" is just plain beautiful, deeply stirring, consistently encouraging, bright but sobering.
So I will remember this past Sunday without a Bible but with a people.  A people together renewed and committed to:

  • Continuing in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers
  • Persevering in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord
  • Proclaiming by word and example the Good News of God in Christ
  • Seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves
  • Striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being

To each of these we aspire "with God's help."  Over and over we recall the promises we made first at our own baptisms, then our own confirmations, and then every time we've welcomed others into this fellowship.
There's a post-it note in the front of that New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha Expanded Edition.  It says, "Please bring this Bible to the ordination May 21, 1994.  [signed] FCB
I was ordained to the priesthood a little earlier than that. January 21, 1994 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Augusta, GA.  I brought the Bible.

No comments: