written by Dani Gabriel
“Will you strive for justice and peace among all beings, and respect the dignity of every human being? ”
I am haunted with our baptismal compact. Certainly, it’s a beautiful substantiate. I return to it over and over again for counseling in ministry and find myself looking at it again this week, ruminating on what it means to reply to this question with “I will, with God’s help.”
Once again a Black man has been shot by the police, this time 7 photographs in the back. And is again, many people are more concerned with the character of the man who was shot than the character of the officers who hit him, or the fact that he was literally shot in the back. I have predicted Facebook post after Facebook post and essay after section about costs, and who we belief, and whose torment matters.
As many others have written, we do this repeatedly to Black people who are victimized by the police. Whether it’s a real charge or a spuriou one, we transform the victim into the one to be accused. We look for a reason to lessen their humanity and excuse the violence done to them. It is racist and it is also entirely beside the point. The baptismal compact offers us something really crucial here. If we are compelled to “respect the dignity of every human being” that includes anyone who is accused of a crime. It also includes people who have actually committed crimes. It includes parties we find it easy to empathize with and people we struggle to understand.
Two weeks ago, after the shooting, I questioned in my lecture “So how will we take over our sweeps and follow Jesus? How can we live differently and live into Jesus’ call? What dress and rules should we lose? It’s a never intent struggle to follow Christ in “peoples lives”. We are all Peter, wanting to avoid pain and sacrifice. This week I thoughts I ascertain some gradations forward, in this baptismal promise.
We forget God’s response to our cruelty. We forget that Jesus Christ rose, and what that means for all of us. God modelings a response for us that does not demonize, or spurn, or disclaim. We admire a God who manages our blasphemy very differently than we often administer the seen blasphemies of our siblings.
This piece of the baptismal pledge has helped me to convert my own experience of violence. As a survivor of violence I have found, time and again, that my healing is more complete when I can see the person who has passed cruelty upon me as a full human being, as more than those achievements, as somebody with solemnity, beloved by God. This does not always include forgiveness. There are places where I am stuck on the tendernes and abuse and can go now no furthest. But it includes respect and acknowledgment of who we all really are. And that is ultimately good, and does more to bring me peace than dropping into the cruelty as if it were the core of the truth.
We have committed ourselves, through our baptismal compact, to respect the dignity of all beings. These are instances where that seems insurmountably difficult, as the internet and the airwaves are full of cries to do the opposite. It’s easy to originate the person or persons you panic, whether it’s the victim or the police officer, into someone not worthy of compassion or attend. But our God knows the americans and cherishes us, and we react with a commitment to keep struggling with our own biases, anxieties, and tendernes to embracing respect for all of Her children.
From Psalm 139 😛 TAGEND
1 O Lord, “youve had” examined me and known me.
2 You know when I sitting there and when I rise up ;P TAGEND
you discern my hopes from far away.
3 You search out my itinerary and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me ;P TAGEND
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I proceed from your intent?
Or where can I flee from your proximity?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there ;P TAGEND
if I become my berthed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I make the backstages of the morning
and agree at the outermost limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
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