May 28, 2017

 Rosaleen B. Nogle 

Today is the last day here at Trinity for my family and me.

Malachi, Ezekiel, and I are going back to St. John’s-Grace, or as Zekey refers to it “Old Church” to wait for the Commission on Ministry and the bishop to tell me what is next in my process.

In a few weeks, Keith, Lynne, and Danielle will be leaving their positions running the Sunday School program.

Reverend Claudia is stepping down from leading the Healing Service.

And Pastor Karen is preparing to retire.

There are a lot of changes happening in this parish.

It is natural to be feeling somewhat lost or even abandoned right now.

 

In the First Reading, the apostles and other disciples are left with a similar feeling after Jesus ascended into heaven.

That is until the two angels shake them out of their paralysis with the words “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”

With these words they return to Jerusalem to pray in the upper room in which Jesus had first found them after his resurrection.

Next week, as the Church celebrates Pentecost, the readings will recall the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles in this same room propelling them out into the world to preach the Good News.

These experiences of the earliest Church serve as a guide for Trinity today. 

As Trinity looks forward to new pastoral leadership, it is a time to pray together, to look within the lay community for strengths, and to embrace one another’s unique talents and personalities.

I therefore think it is a sign of Divine Providence, of God’s presence in our lives that today we celebrate a baptism.

Because at Baptism, the person being baptized, or their parents and godparents if the person is too young to speak for themselves, makes certain promises.

And then the rest of the congregation renews their own baptismal promises.

 

We promise to do as the apostles did, with God’s help: “to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers.”

That is, we promise to keep the faith.

This is an important promise, because it is a promise all of us make, not just the clergy.

No matter who is up here preaching or who is at the altar presiding over the consecration of the bread and the wine, by virtue of our baptism, we are all called to keep the faith alive in our community.

 

We promise that with God’s help, we will “persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.”

That is, we promise to try not to do anything which will hurt our relationship with God.

….But we know that we will, because we are human.

And so when that happens, we promise to come back to God, who loves us like I love my little boys even when they have just broken something important and expensive.

 

We promise, again, not just the bishops, priests, and deacons, but all of us, promise with God’s help to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.

For many of us, in our daily lives, it is by example, rather than by word, by which we most frequently proclaim the Good News of God in Christ.

By living our secular lives in a way in which others feel drawn to us and look to us for guidance that we show God’s love in the world.

Not by berating others with biblical quotes.

But, when the opportunities present themselves, we are also called upon to share our own faith journeys and why we have found our home in Christ in the Episcopal Church.

 

We promise, with God’s help, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.

This one is hard; very often, during times of stress particularly so, we are tempted to turn inward.

We are tempted to follow the apostles’ example and go and hide in a room by ourselves with the doors locked.

But this is not our call, even during these times of stress, we are called to reach out into our community.

We are called to serve others as Trinity does in the food pantry which opens its doors downstairs many times throughout the week to feed those from throughout the Lancaster community.

And we are called to serve others as Trinity does by hosting Girl Scout troops, by holding breakfasts with Santa and the Easter Bunny and in all of the other ways Trinity is a resource for the community.

 

Lastly, we promise, with God’s help, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

This last one is probably the hardest of all, because it is not easy to respect the dignity of every human being.

There is always one person in every group that can get under your skin as I am sure you know from your lives outside of Trinity.

And if you are really honest with yourselves, even here.

Our current political climate makes this even more difficult.

It is easy to just see those we disagree with as part of a mass of intolerance or gullibility.

But we are called upon to look at each and every person on the face of the earth and recognize that that person is the face of God. 

These baptismal promises together form a compass for our faith.

Whenever we start to get off track, caught up in our everyday lives and stresses, if we turn to these promises, we can find our way back to what is really important.

And so I hope that in the weeks ahead you will take the time to reread these promises to guide you through this time of uncertainty and change.