This past Tuesday of Holy Week, our Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) invited rostered leaders to come together and renew their ordination vows. Many of the 65 synods throughout our wider church do the same: providing clergy and deacons and other leaders a space and time to feel a bit of spiritual nourishment amidst what can often be the most chaotic time of the year. For some reason, many show up in spite of all that still has to be done for a Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Resurrection Sunday, and whatever else in between. For some reason, many insist on that sacred space and time to not have to worry about worship-planning and the seemingly endless to-do list, and just sit in the assembly space and take all that Holy Spirit in.

And yes, along the way we renew our vows that we made in front of family and friends and seminary faculty and mentors and cherished siblings in Christ. We renew our commitment to Scripture, to baptism and communion, to building up the body of Christ. And so, it made me think that perhaps amidst what can be one of the most chaotic times of year for even the non-clergy/deacons of the church, we should all take some time to renew our baptismal vows. Granted, many of us weren’t exactly aware what was going on when the water was poured over our heads. For us in the Lutheran and other mainline traditions, that’s what Confirmation is for: to affirm our baptism in front of family and friends and mentors and cherished siblings in Christ.

So, for example, on this upcoming Resurrection Sunday, our 9AM and 11AM worships will begin with a Thanksgiving for Baptism. We will give thanks for the new life we are blessed with in those precious waters, to be sure, but we will also give thanks for those precious waters that send us to be the present-day disciples of Jesus Christ, to do our part in building up the body of Christ and beyond.

The gathering hymn for that worship was especially moving amidst knowing we would be renewing our vows, not to mention for a busy week ahead, but also the humbling awareness of our collective role in bringing God’s love to further life for others to see. From our Evangelical Lutheran Worship #358, “Great God, Your Love Has Called Us Here,”

Great God, your love has called us here
as we, by love, for love were made.
Your living likeness still we bear,
though marred, dishonored, disobeyed.
We come, with all our heart and mind
your call to hear, your love to find.

We come with self-inflicted pains
of broken trust and chosen wrong,
half-free, half-bound by inner chains,
by social forces swept along,
by powers and systems close confined
yet seeking hope for humankind.

Great God, in Christ you call our name
and then receive us as your own
not through some merit, right, or claim,
but by your gracious love alone.
We strain to glimpse your mercy seat
and find you kneeling at our feet.

Then take the towel, and break the bread,
and humble us, and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed,
and show how grandly love intends
to work till all creation sings,
to fill all worlds, to crown all things.

Great God, in Christ you set us free
your life to live, your joy to share.
Give us your Spirit's liberty
to turn from guilt and dull despair,
and offer all that faith can do
while love is making all things new.

Yes, regardless of our “self-inflicted pains…half-free, half-bound by inner chains,” we are still very much “seeking hope for humankind.” And yes, you are part of that hope. You are part of this sacred honor to be the present-day disciples of Jesus Christ. You are set free, “your life to live, your joy to share…while love is making all things new.” So, this week and always…enjoy the ride! Amen (so let it be)!

In Christ,
Pastor Brad

If you wish to hear the hymn from Mt. Olive Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN), please click below:
ELW 358, "Great God, Your Love Has Called Us" (youtube.com)