6 May 2018

Reaching Out Through Our Baptism

"Religious Things"
CC BY 2.0 by Håkan Dahlstrōm. Source: Flickr
            Last Sunday, we celebrated a baptism within our community. We had the privilege of hearing baptismal vows taken on behalf of a gorgeous little one, as we delighted to formally welcome her into the household of God.
            I love that we all affirm our vows during such liturgies, reminding us that these vows are important, life-long commitments: we strive to engage in these ministries, with God's help, every day.
            One of the vows strikes home with the community-focused ministry we practice at this parish. We intentionally find ways in which what we are offering may benefit the most vulnerable in our local community.
            We collect food for the local food bank. We have a number of baskets at the back of the worship space, and we now have a 'monthly challenge' - each month suggesting one type of item that might be needed (May, for example, is tinned fruits and vegetables). A committed parishioner is taking hundreds of pounds of food every month to be distributed through the food bank.
            Another new ministry has connected us with another church; a group of ladies there weave milk bags into water-resistant mats for the homeless. So we collect these bags, and get them to the weavers. It's a simple, no-cost initiative that is of benefit to those that receive.
            We also initiated, with 2 other local Anglican churches, a program of 'dignity kits' - we collect items of personal hygiene and well-being (such as soap and shampoo, underwear and lip balm), and assemble kits that can be distributed to folks in need. The distribution happens through a partnership with a local social services agency; our ministry is the assembling and storing of these kits. It's in a church basement, and it's not snazzy or flashy - but we are regularly reminded that there is an unending need for these kits, and that they are gratefully received (to date over 400 kits have been shared, in just under a year).
            For us, this is one facet of our baptismal reality. We made a covenant with God and community, to “respect the dignity of every human being.” (and other vows). So, we know that God heard and hears these vows, and that God has called us to live into the vow.
            While we recognise the need to work against the systems and structures that cause the vulnerable to be in such need; we also respond to that need as best we can, with kits of necessities, and with dignity - as we vowed.
            It's a joyous journey of discernment as we intentionally find ways to meet the needs of our community - not just guessing what we think others *might* want or need, but through conversations and partnerships with those who can benefit. As needs can change month to month, so too must our response. This journey is one of relationship.
            Within the parish, we have seen profound generosity. Within the comunity, we have seen abundant opportunities to engage. Within ourselves, we have seen abundant love to actively live the vows that we have made, and affirm, and re-affirm.
            What a privilege to be baptised: not as an event that happened one day in the past, but as a daily delight to live into the full potential of being a child of God. For that is what we do: with God's help.

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