Chattanooga stung and stings. We grieve for the lost Marines. We grieve for our lost sense community and safety. We grieve for the hate unleashed. We grieve with what we hope is a godly grief. We lament. With the Psalmist we lift heavy eyes to God.
At times I want to lash out. Yet, I am fairly sure that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr was right when he wrote: “Through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you can murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you can murder a hater but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that”. I affirm with James 1:19 that “human anger cannot bring about God’s righteousness”. I believe my past anger served to only consume the better parts of me and unleash more fire in the world. I repent. I lament.
After lamentations, what can we do?
I personally affirm with the Apostle Paul that “The government is God’s servant designed for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of justice to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:4)
After lamentations, what can we do?
We must work for justice. But how do most of us go about bringing justice into the world?
On Sunday, we will baptize a baby. We will pour water over the head of child made in the very image of God. We will bring the little children to God trusting God’s Kingdom belongs to even the infants. We will shout quietly to the darkness: “you cannot put out the light of God”. We will say to those consumed by ideologies of hate – “love conquers all”. We will counter this world’s evil dirge singing- “you will not hold this ground for long.” We will defy terror with goodness. We will unleash decency and love into the world. We will celebrate life. We will freely worship. We will offer grace, hope, and love to a child. We will pledge to build a community of love and forgiveness.
My lament must end as I hold a child and say for us all : “The Holy Spirit work within you, that being born of water and the Spirit, may you live as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ” Today, I looked over our baptismal vows. I divided them up line by line, promise by promise, and pledge by pledge. Friends our baptismal covenant is a sufficient response to this present evil. Let us walk together in the way that leads to life!
- Today, we renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness.
- Today, we reject the evil powers of this world.
- Today, we repent of our sin!
- Today, we accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression.
- Today, we confess Jesus Christ as our Savior.
- Today, we put our whole trust in God’s grace, and we promise to serve Christ as our Lord.
- Today, we promise to serve inside the Church, remembering that Christ welcomes people of all ages, nations, and races!
- Today, we reaffirm our commitment to remain faithful members of Christ’s Holy Church.
- Today, we serve as Christ’s representatives in the world.
- Today, we nurture one another in the Christian faith and life, including every child and each person in our care.
- Today, we proclaim the Good News.
- Today, with God’s help we live according to the example of Christ.
- Today, we build a community of love and forgiveness.
- Today, we grow in our trust of God and our service to others.
- Today, we pray for each other.
- Today, we seek to be true disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Today we walk in the way that leads to life.
Adapted From The UMC Baptismal Covenant
“Let us not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)