The Baptismal Covenant in our Book of Common Prayer calls us to make some extreme vows. We renounce Satan. We vow to proclaim, by word and example, the Good News of God in Christ. We vow to seek and serve Christ in all persons. We vow that we will strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. But what does all of this mean? And where does it come from? And is baptism necessary? What does it mean (every day and in every way) to be a Christian?
This fall, St. Paul’s will offer three different “conversations”: there will be opportunities for you to gather with saints old and young to discuss: (1) the Bible; (2) the Book of Common Prayer; and (3) the Christian Life. We will begin these conversations with a shared meal at the church and then divide into these three groups for more intimate conversation. Each group will have a couple leaders, but the hope is that these groups will facilitate the meeting of those who have questions with those who might offer some answers. These are not intended to be “beginner classes” or “introductory,” but they are intended to be accessible to anyone at any point in their journey.
These conversations are intended to go as deep as you take them. So please bring your ignorant questions, your nuanced soap-box speeches, and your need to just make friends. We’ll listen. And we’ll talk.
(1) The Bible Every Sunday morning we read from the Bible, noting whether we’re reading a psalm or an epistle (what’s that?) or another genre. But what is the Bible? How are we to approach the myriad genres in it? What views of Scripture are endorsed at St. Paul’s? What parts do you ignore? Which contextual clues must we consider as we interpret and apply its truth? What is Midrash? Does anyone here read the apocryphal books? What are options for considering the relationship between Scripture and Tradition? Let’s talk.
(2) The Book of Common Prayer What is the red book in the pew next to the hymnal? And what starts on page 355 in that book? Does anyone use the Book of Common Prayer anymore? Why would anyone use that book? Are we “supposed” to have this book memorized? Can it tell me when to kneel during the service? What is a rubric? Can it tell me how to love my neighbor, or is it only for use in the Nave (and what is the Nave, anyway?)? How do you decide which parts of the Bible to read each Sunday morning? How can I find a copy of the vows I made when I was baptized? Come; let’s talk.
(3) The Christian Life The life of the Christian can be recognizably different than the life of one who has not made the vows that we have in our baptisms. These vows change our schedules. They change our interactions with every single person. They change our interactions with the earth and our garbage and our food. They change our relationships with technology and science and government. They change our relationships with the weakest among us and with our own selves. But these changes don’t usually happen apart from prayer and meeting together with the rest of the Church to ponder and listen and seek to grow. And each Christian’s life is unique. How can we be intentional and honest about our lives? What changes do we need to make? The first step is be present with other Christians.
We’ll study. We’ll talk. We’ll imagine together. If you haven’t been baptized, if you were baptized ages ago, we value your presence. Join us Wednesday, September 30th to November 18 at 6:30 pm, in the Great Hall.