A SUMMARY IN TWO QUESTIONS
Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil?
Candidate: I do.
Do you renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
Candidate: I do, and with God’s grace I will follow him as my Savior and Lord.
These two questions are asked by the Bishop in the service when people reaffirm or “Confirm” their Baptism or when people are received into the Episcopal Church from another denomination. They sum up what we believe: that there is evil in the world, that we must turn away from it; and that a decision to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord makes all the difference in our lives. (From The Book of Common Prayer, abbreviated BCP, p. 415)
Episcopalians believe that everything we need to know about God’s love and purpose for us can be found in the Bible. At ordination our clergy make this promise: “I solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to Salvation.” (BCP p. 526)
Often we must wrestle with the texts of Bible passages to find the powerful meaning that God has for us. One prayer that Pam and Steve Easterday regularly use to begin their Bible studies is this:
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for
our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn,
and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever
hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have
given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP p. 236)
And very often to embrace and hold fast to God’s message requires that we talk about passages from the Bible with others in Bible Study groups.
THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER (bcp)
As Episcopalians we have a treasury of material to help us understand the Bible in our Book of Common Prayer which is a kind of “service book” for our church, but also a commentary on the faith. St. Augustine said, “What we pray is what we believe.” That is certainly true for Episcopalians. For example, if you want to know what we believe about life after death, then read our service for the Burial of the Dead. What you will find is that we believe that when each one of us stands before God after death that we will see One who is “my friend and not a stranger.” (BCP p. 491) We also believe that when those we love die, that we have “the comfort of a reasonable and holy hope, in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those we love.” (BCP p. 481)
These helpful insights are available at every important point in life. When a baby is born we understand that “everyone who receives a little child receives Christ himself,” and we pray that the family will bring the child to “love all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable” following the example of Christ. (BCP p. 443). In marriage we celebrate the “mutual joy” in the union of husband and wife and we pray that “each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy.” (BCP pp. 423 and 429)
FAITH AS A JOURNEY
We believe that the Christian faith is a journey, a pilgrimage that involves walking with Jesus. On that journey we know that we have God’s help.
If you have not begun your journey with Jesus then we invite you to do so today.
A simple prayer can serve as your beginning. Nicky Gumbel, a Church of England priest, calls this the STP Prayer. (from “Why Jesus?” p. 20) Simply pray:
S – Sorry. Lord God (Father God) I am sorry for all those things that I know are wrong in my life.
T – Thank You. Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for me.
P – Please. Please Holy Spirit come into my life.
We encourage you to pray this prayer and keep praying it every day. It acknowledges the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and it invites God to be with you in the power of the Holy Spirit every day.