The Baptismal Covenant - Worship, Downtown (in Cobourg)

The Baptismal Covenant
An appreciation of the principles of our baptismal promises as they
inform our approach to social media in the early 21st c.
Andrew Wm. Graham
January 2015
1. Celebrant Do you believe in God the
People I believe in God, The Father
almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. Celebrant Do you believe in Jesus Christ,
the Son of God?
On the third day he rose again. He
ascended into heaven, and is seated at
the right hand of the Father. He will
come again to judge the living and the
3. Celebrant Do you believe in God the Holy
People I believe in God the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life
4. Celebrant Will you continue in the apostles’
teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of
bread, and in the prayers?
People I will, with God’ s help.
5. Celebrant Will you persevere in resisting evil
and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and
return to the Lord?
People I will, with God’s help.
6. Celebrant Will you proclaim by word and
example the good news of God in Christ?
People I will, with God’s help.
7. Celebrant Will you seek and serve Christ in all
persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?
People I will, with God’s help.
8. Celebrant Will you strive for justice and peace
among all people, and respect the dignity of
every human being?
People I will, with God’s help.
9. Celebrant Will you strive to safeguard the
integrity of God's creation, and respect, sustain
and renew the life of the Earth?
People I will, with God’s help.
How does the Baptismal Covenant inform our
thinking about responsible use of social media?
1. The God and Father of Jesus, in the fellowship
of the Holy Spirit, has called us into a new way of
life. The power of this new life is demonstrated in
the ways that God by grace transforms Her
people. God’s love changes and renews us.
2. We no longer live for ourselves but for Christ
alive in us. Living out the promises of our baptism
is one aspect of this process of ongoing transformation, as day by day we move closer to being who
God created us to be.
3. This work of sanctification in us is not solely
for us to experience and enjoy, but to share by
serving one another in ways that reflect Christ the
servant in us.
4. New media technologies extend the power of
our language. To continue in the apostles’
teaching and fellowship no longer demands our
physical proximity to one another. Disciples may
share their hearts and minds using many new
ways to communicate over vast distances.
They may pray together over the telephone or
Skype, Twitter, or Facebook. However, this is not
true for the laying on of hands, which is to be felt,
or the breaking of bread, which requires people to
physically share bread blessed and broken and the
new wine of the kingdom poured out and
sanctified. Social media cannot substitute for
tactile actions that require us to be embodied to
one another.
5. Our empowerment by these technologies comes
with a price. A generation ago we could not
anticipate the temptations to pride, immodesty,
immorality and licentiousness that exist now. The
internet and social media has brought
recklessness, callousness, a new cult of celebrity
and other social ills into the mainstream of
western life, without bringing any obvious
An environment where God’s people can be
reconciled is very important now, and it remains
to be seen whether online communities of faith
will rise to the challenge of true gracious
fellowship that holds brothers and sisters
accountable for their transgressions and furnishes
environments where sinners may repent and
return to the Lord.
6. The proclamation by word and example of the
good news of God in Christ is possible in many
new ways, dependant only on the imagination of
the social media evangelist. The challenge with
these new tools is to ensure that they are in the
service of the message rather than overshadowing
it. [leading to ...]
7. New media technologies afford us new means
to serve one another, and serve Christ in one
another. Each of us is now empowered to
immediately address the world. From a single
cellphone anyone can proclaim a message of hope
or despair more widely and immediately than the
most powerful world leader of the past generation.
This enormous power permits much good, and
calls us to be responsible stewards of the
messages we send, for we are representatives of
God’s love. As “love does no harm to a
neighbour” it is especially incumbent upon people
of faith to be careful when using social media, that
our best thinking and highest values be
represented in what we write, and what we read.
When we seek to inform and correct one another
we will want to do it gently in the spirit of caring
and with hope for reconciliation. [leading to …]
8. Because the reach and outreach of our thoughts
and words is magnified in social media, our ability
to focus attention on situations and stories from
near and far is likewise amplified. We have the
ability to bring the eyes of the world immediately
to any tragedy, miscarriage of justice, war and
place where people are degraded and suffering.
What should concern us is what we do next.
It is a challenge to tell these stories in ways that
show respect for the dignity of the people in such
circumstances and to use what we learn to bring
about healing for the people and transformation of
the unjust structures at the heart of the situations
we see. To an extent, we are what we broadcast.
Close investigation of the technology sector
confronts us with the human suffering that has
gone into the products we carry: tablets, phones,
etc. It is important to be aware of the messages,
but also the human costs of the media. [leading to
9. Landfill sites full of disposable technological
products, batteries improperly disposed of, ruined
waterways, poisoned air, pollution, overcrowded
cities, underpaid workers, high stress, skies that
can no longer been seen at night, new anxiety
disorders, and the breakdown of social cohesion
are all to some extent side effects
of the new always-on always-connected nature of
social media and the internet. It is incumbent on
us to weigh the value of what we are gaining
against what we have destroyed and cannot
recreate. Made in the image and likeness of God,
we are remaking this world in the image and
likeness of humanity, and what we are producing
is not beautiful.
We are a part of God’s creation, and we urgently
need to respect, renew, and sustain ourselves so
that we have the tools to extend the same to the
creation that nurtures us.

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