Last fall we were searching for a theme for our pledge campaign. Of course, there are many inspiring texts we are able to choose from, but I wanted something that spoke to us as a parish and a community. I thought about times in the liturgy when we express our sense of community; our individual and group commitment to our life together and to God.
As I pondered this I thought about the baptismal service where we affirm our faith through the Apostles’ Creed. After that we make promises about specific aspects of the Christian life. These are practical actions that we take as individuals and as a community of faith. They are to,
- Continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers,
- Persevere in the resisting of evil, and whenever [we] fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord,
- Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ,
- Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving [our] neighbors as ourselves,
- Strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.
We affirm each of these statements of the Christian life by saying, “I will, with God’s help.” This is a critical statement for we promise to live by each of these statements. We also recognize that we cannot do it alone. We recognize that we need God’s help to accomplish anything, especially these most important promises that we make to God and each other.
We had our pledge campaign theme. We used it on our pledge cards, in the pledge letter, indeed in all communications written and spoken. We also printed it on the mug we gave everyone who made a pledge. But why on a mug of all the everyday, ordinary and almost trivial of things? Could printing it on a mug minimize the power of the statement? To my mind putting this statement on such an ordinary piece of pottery reminds me that it is not just in church, or baptismal ceremonies, but every single day of my life I need God’s help.
I need God’s help to get up in the morning, to make breakfast, to say my prayers, to do my work, attend to my responsibilities, to be kind to others especially when I am not feeling kindly, to be patient with those who pluck my nerves and to be patient with myself when I am not doing my best. Without God I am nothing. Without God I can do nothing. Even when I ignore or am distant from God it is still God who is upholding me in all that I do and I am. I can will myself to do things, but it is God who makes it possible and sustains me in my doing. I need Got to get through the everyday as well as the extraordinary days of my life. Days like those we are experiencing now.
I gave my friend Michael Sweeney one of our mugs. Just a few days ago he sent this photo and wrote, “The mug seems weirdly prescient.”  So it is. We do the practical things because we know they help—social distancing, staying home, wearing masks, etc. We know that these are genuine signs of love for our neighbor. Ultimately it is the living into our baptismal promises with the sure and certain knowledge that we can only do so with God’s help that we make our clearest statement that it is in God that we trust.
 Michael has a knack for pointing out things I overlook and that inspire me