by the Rev’d Dr. Helen Svoboda-Barber

1 John 3:1-3

Today short reading from the first epistle of John gives such a sense of comfort and hope.  And we can all use some comfort and hope here as we move into November 2020:

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)

Comfort and Hope:  “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.”  

In yesterday’s Rector’s Reflection, I invited people to join me in using the, “Yes, and…” tool as a way to pray and calm our anxious thoughts.  (If you haven’t seen it, you can find it on our Rector’s Blog.)  The “Yes, and…” tool can also be a great way to deepen our commitment to growth as God’s own children.    

“Yes, and…” is a technique used in improvisational acting.  No matter what scene an actor walks into, no matter how weird it gets, each actor’s response should be, “Yes, and…” while they join the scene already in motion rather than saying, “No, but” and trying to divert the scene to something else entirely. “Yes, and…” is a way to build trust, and a way to practice building upon what already exists.

The writer of 1 John uses this technique in today’s passage:

“We are children of God now.”   “Yes, and…”  “What we will be has not yet been revealed.”

We are already God’s children. Yes, and… no one knows the fullness of what we will be when we mature as members of God’s family. 

We have already been named and claimed as God’s own children though our baptism, which we renewed in today’s worship service.   At our baptism, we made promises to live in God’s ways of love and truth.  Each time we renew our baptism, we re-commit to these promises to live in God’s way of love and truth. 

We make promises. Yes, and…we fall short of those promises. Yes, and…we confess our shortcomings and ask for God’s help to follow more faithfully.

In The Episcopal Church, we believe one baptism is all that is needed your whole life.   Yes, and…in The Episcopal church we also renew our baptismal vows at least five times a year to help us remember and return to living into our promises.  

We are children of God now. Yes, and…we fall short of perfection. Yes, and…we repent and recommit to our baptismal vows.

As we renew our baptismal vows again next Sunday for the Bishop’s Visit, and at the end of the month for Christ the King Sunday, what would it be like if instead of using the response, “I will with God’s help” we responded with, “Yes, and…” with specificity  about how we promise to live out these vows in the end days of 2020?

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

Yes, and… I will do this by listening to Lizzie and Jonathan McManus-Dail’s weekly lectionary podcast and praying daily using the Ceaseless prayer app.

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

Yes, and…I will do this by resisting being complacent in the face of evil; I will look and listen for ways I fall short; I will humbly admit my wrong, and ask for help as I need it.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

Yes, and…I will do this by posting my sermons; but also by looking for ways to point to Goodness in the world, and to thank God publicly for that Goodness.  

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

Yes, and…I will do this especially when I don’t see eye to eye with another.  I will try to remember Christ’s presence within that other and treat them as I would treat Jesus.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

Yes, and…I will do this by listening carefully to voices of justice denied, and I will use my voice to work to correct injustice.  

I will with God’s help…

Yes, and…

We can continue to shape our lives more and more closely to the lives God wants for us by living into our Baptismal Vows, by proclaiming I will with God’s help and by committing with a hearty, “Yes…and” with specific ways we can live into these vows in our own lives during this season. 

We are God’s children now.

Yes, and…what we will be has not yet been revealed.  

Join me in “yes…and”-ing our way through the end of 2020 so that we can continue to grow more and more into the likeness of what God imagines for us.

One thought on ““Yes, and”-ing the Baptismal Covenant | November 1, 2020

  1. Dear Rector Helen,
    How glad I was to partake in the All Saint’s Sunday service last Sunday on youtube! I thank you and St. Luke’s for this effort with all my heart! This was the first service I had been able to hear since last March, since my husband and I do not do facebook (or Zoom), because of his business concerns. I noticed that after 71 years of repeating the services as written in the Episcopal Prayer Book, I found this simple service very refreshing. For half of my life I have struggled with the rigidity of often repeated services, so this past week I found myself in tears to hear something more modern, sincere and refreshing. It felt more from the heart, which I, as an artist, feel is very important… I also thank you for your blog on “Roots.” Until reading it, I did not realize that the Eno River State Park had re-opened! Nature has long been my place to reconnect with the oneness of God and all of God’s infinite Creation. Therefore, I was able to make my way to the Rivermont Trail this past week with joy, (where I feel such kinship with the historic Indians who once also wound their way through Mother Nature to this beloved river). So now I have a second reason to thank you and St. Luke’s for what you are sharing and have created on this new easy-to-use web-site (as a link to life beyond downtown Durham, where my husband and I are safely nestled near East Campus).

    I hope that you and your family are well, as are Scott and I (now retired). I do hear what a great workload you now have and I want you to know that you are constantly in my prayers with loving thoughts. I thank you for your commitment to God and your congregation as a wayshower for all of us. Perhaps we will not meet again in person for another year, but it is clear to me that you are always there serving God and all of us with great heart and strength, which includes those like myself, who dip casually in and out of St. Luke’s for spiritual sustenance on an irregular basis. I know that God is with you! Thank you for your love and steadfast service.

    In Love, Peace and Gratitude,
    Susanya Schuett


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