Will you cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation?
That is a question we will be asked at the 10 am service this Sunday. It is one of a number of questions that make up the Baptismal Covenant, questions asked of those being baptized, or of parents of children being baptized. For those of us already baptized, it is asked of us as well so that we might reaffirm our commitment to promises we once made.
For most of us, however, it is a new question. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2015 added this question for trial use in the Sacrament of Baptism – you won’t find it in the Book of Common Prayer.
“New occasions teach new duties” are words from a hymn I used to sing in my days as a United Methodist. Deputies and bishops at the General Convention discerned that the care and repair of creation is a crucial issue for Christians to address in the 21st century. Climate change is a new occasion. We have new duties to learn.
I thought of that baptismal question listening to President Trump’s remarks announcing his intention for the United States to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. As I listened, I realized the he was following through on a promise he made in his campaign. He was keeping a promise he had made.
On Sunday, we will be asked to keep to the promises we make. We will not be asked to make those promises as Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. We will not be asked to make those promises as Americans, or even as global citizens. We will be asked to make those promises as disciples of Jesus Christ.
We will be asked to serve Christ, not only in the intimate circles of those we know, but “in all persons.” We will be asked to strive for justice and peace, not just among some, but among all people. We will be asked to respect the dignity of human beings, not just of Americans, but of every human being. We will be asked to care not only for the beautiful property of our church that we blessed last Sunday, but for all creation.
I know that I fall far short of lkeeping the promises I have made. I know that given my 21st century American lifestyle, I am doing little to protect the beauty and integrity of all creation, and actually doing much to harm it. I need your help. And you need mine.
Will you respect the wondrous works of God, and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation? I look forward to hearing from you how you are striving to keeping that promise.