OK, so I lied.

Instead of writing about 3 R words, I’m doing four. Deal with it.

When Jesus lovers are baptized into the Christian tradition, they take on a new identity – one that renounces the spiritual forces of wickedness, rejects the evil powers of this world, and repents of your sin.

That’s really hard to do. For me, it’s like walking a tight rope. I want to identify all the places in the world that suck, reject everything that’s not good and lovely and holy, but I also need to do that without being a little jerk myself. I also need to recognize that I’m capable of the same things that aren’t good or lovely or holy and that I can suck. And then I need to stop sucking. It’s in me, too.

Thank God that’s not the only part of the baptismal covenant.

The following parts are so crucial. Without them, I don’t think I’d be able to walk the tightrope. We renounce, reject, and repent; but we also accept the freedom that comes from God, the power to resist. We admit we can’t do any of this without Jesus, and we put our whole trust in him. We can do these things with God’s help, and we do them best in community with other people who have put their trust in God, too.

The world has always had its tragedy, its bucket of crazy, its tangled web of crap. We, Church, have been tasked with the untangling. It starts within us, as we admit we need the Holy Spirit’s power to resist personal sin, and it radiates out from us, as we accept that power to change the world. Saints and sinners have been in this business for thousands of years. When you were baptized, you joined a holy, subversive, radical movement that spans across time and space, of people living an upside down (or rather, right side up) way of life. This is the cosmic Body of Christ into which you were baptized.

Perhaps you’re feeling a strange warming of the heart right now – the fire that burns within you, the Holy Spirit that inspires and empowers. If that’s you, I encourage you to reaffirm your baptismal covenant today.

Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

May you go forth, and may you live your life in such a way that all who see you might want to know your God.

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