This article was first published in the February issue of the Journal.
I was baptized on April 7, 1957 at Emmanuel Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Though my baptismal certificate is a bit yellowed and tattered, I carry it with me wherever I go. It is tucked into my Prayer Book and is sometimes the focus of a chat with the children or with adults being baptized.
We speak of being “signed with the cross” and “marked as Christ’s own forever.” To be marked in this way is both a grace and a call.
The grace is a gift freely given by God in Christ. He has redeemed me and drawn me into the very mystery of his life and death and resurrection. He has made me his own. He loves me in life, and I trust he will love me through death. How can I not be grateful? As the hymn puts it, “How can I keep from singing?”
The call is an invitation to “spirited discipleship”-to follow him and to learn of him so that my outlook and the way I live my life are shaped by his teaching. I am called to share his gospel and to nurture others in faith. I am called to help those in need and to do my part in building a truly just, healthy and peaceful world. I am called to care for the earth with concern for those who come after me.
And thanks be to God, I do none of this alone-in fact, I couldn’t. I do it in the company of all others marked in the same way I am. That company of faithful people is the church.
This Lent and Easter, we are offered a wonderful opportunity to explore and deepen our discipleship as individuals and as parish communities. Heartily endorsed by all our bishops, the theme for this process of baptismal renewal is entitled “Becoming the Story We Tell: renewing our engagement with Christ crucified and risen.” Resources designed to foster reflection and strengthen communal discernment and spiritual conversation are available online-see http://www.anglican.ca/primate/becoming/.
I am happy to commend these resources for widespread use across our beloved church, so that in our witness to Christ and his gospel we may go from strength to strength.