Last Sunday, seven of St. John’s youth stepped into the pulpit during our 10am worship and offered thoughtful, authentic, and compelling reflections on faith and life. They were brave and honest and eloquent, and I know many hearts were full of awe as we listened and received their offering. These youth have spent the past year together with Youth Minister Tom Fregoso and their adult mentors unpacking what it means to practice living a faithful life and preparing for Confirmation. On Saturday morning, they will gather with Bishop Marc and other Confirmands at Blackie’s Pasture to offer “a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop” (from the Book of Common Prayer). In baptism, we are received into the household of God and marked as Christ’s own forever. In baptism, we affirm our faith and take vows, one of which is to promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Every time I hear those words I think about what our world would be like – could be like – if we deeply embodied that commitment.
Fifteen months ago, we were called upon to dramatically alter the way we lived and moved in the world. It was not easy. It was comfortable. And yet, we did it. We changed, and kept changing as we learned more and discovered the most effective ways to protect ourselves and to protect each other. Things are now changing again. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked by a few people whether I was ok with a hug. The first time it gave me pause as I mentally renegotiated what feels safe these days, and adjusted to another new “normal.” I was also struck by how profoundly affirming it felt to be asked. We all experience life differently, and we’re all emerging from the pandemic in our own ways. I wonder – I hope – that the experience of this past year is helping us see each other with fresh eyes, and teaching us new ways to “respect the dignity of every human being.”