In June’s issue of Anglican Life, Bishop Samuel Rose began a two-part article
called “Deepening Relationships.” In this continuation, he delves again into our
baptismal covenant, picking up where he left off in the spring.
For those seeking to refresh their memories, the first part can be read on our
website at: https://anglicanlife.ca/deepening-relationships-part-i/
How is your relationship with God? In other words, “Do you love Jesus?” It is a personal question, but one that is so important. We go to the doctor occasionally for a physical or a check-up. Our spiritual health is no different.
We can do this spiritual check-up by looking at what we are called to be and to do as baptized Christians. That will mean inviting every baptized person to renew their faith by regularly examining the Baptismal Covenant.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?
What does this mean?
This promise means that we recognize the presence of Jesus in everyone we encounter and treat them with the love and respect that Jesus himself would. When we love “our neighbour,” which is everyone we meet, we do so with compassion, to put the needs and well-being of others before our own, and to actively work for the betterment of all people. If God loves everyone, so should God’s people. We must be reminded that as followers of Jesus, we are called to love and serve others in the way that Jesus did and taught us.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?
What does this mean?
We are all too aware of the problems in the world: violence, poverty, hunger, injustice, and so many more. As Christians, we commit to actively creating a more just and peaceful society and treating all people with dignity and respect. We work with God to be part of a community where everyone is treated fairly and conflicts are resolved peacefully. It involves standing up for the rights of the marginalized, promoting equality, and working to end discrimination and oppression. All are made in the image of God, and we promise to respect each individual’s inherent worth and value, regardless of their background, beliefs, or circumstances. We reject the evils of prejudice and mistreatment of others and challenge systems and structures that corrupt and destroy God’s people.
Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation and respect, sustain, and renew the life of the Earth?
What does this mean?
We are all too aware that our climate is in crisis. We commit to actively protecting and preserving the natural environment and treating it with respect, care, and good stewardship. This world is a gift from God. We must protect it from pollution and harm and take steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Our Earth is interconnected, and human actions significantly affect it. Respecting, sustaining, and renewing God’s creation means sustainably using its resources, restoring and conserving natural habitats, and taking measures to ensure the continuation of life on Earth. This promise is a reminder that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to be good stewards of God’s creation and to actively work towards protecting and preserving the natural environment for future generations.
If we want to know God more deeply, it means taking what we promise more seriously. To grow in our faith as Anglican Christians is a lifelong journey. We have made growing faith important to our young people as a Church. We have Sunday School and Confirmation Classes, but continuing Adult Faith Education is essential. I have asked every parish in this Diocese to commit to ongoing Christian education for all those of every age who wish to take seriously the Baptismal Covenant and the promises they make at their baptism.
And if we are to take this seriously, it will mean more than renewing our faith. God calls us as individuals, but we are part of a broader and diverse family of believers called the Church. And in this Christian Church—made up of all who have placed their faith and hope in Jesus—we strive to welcome all people, as God has welcomed us.
I call all our congregations to be renewed in faith and relationship with God and others. Churches should stand out and be leaders in the local community, especially in showing care and compassion for those in need. A missional church connects personal faith with social action. When we collectively commit to the Baptismal Covenant as a Church family, we embrace the call to be disciples seeking and serving Jesus in all places, at all times, and for all people.
We work to become inclusive, supportive, and non-judgemental communities of faith as we continue to seek and serve Christ in all persons: those already identifying as part of our faith communities, those looking for connections with our faith communities, those against whom wrongs have been done in the name of our faith communities; and the broader community outside of our faith entirely.
There are so many in the world that are looking for hope. With God, we can be that hope. I believe the foundation lies in deepening relationships—with God and one another. This needs to be at the very centre of the life and ministry of this Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland & Labrador.