Surely Kin To Me
In the course of the Christian year, we Episcopalians reaffirm our baptismal covenant. A covenant is not a contract-- it's an open-ended commitment between God, and us, and one another. The basis of that covenant is our belief that every person is created in the image of God, and that we all share the life of the same savior Jesus Christ who died for us and rose again, and now empowers us with the same Holy Spirit. It's out of that belief that we then affirm that we will strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
It was that basic belief founded in the covenant we make in our common baptism that inspired Absalom Jones not to accept second status in the church, and it was that shared belief that moved the Episcopal Church to ordain him priest in 1802. Sometimes it takes a while to realize the implications of the radical nature of what it means to be a baptized member of the Body of Christ.
So, this weekend we celebrate the fact that all people, no matter who they are, where they come from, or any other factor swim in the same baptismal water. We not only celebrate Black History Month, as important as that may be. We not only celebrate Absalom Jones, as prophetic as he was. We not only celebrate the African American communities in our midst, as beautifully diverse as they are. Primarily, because we are Christians, we celebrate our fundamental unity as baptized beloved brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. So together we sing the old hymn:
In Christ there is no east or west,
in him no south or north, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth. Join hands, disciples of the faith, whate'er your race may be! Who serves my father as a child
is surely kin to me. In Christ now meet both east and west; in him meet south and north, all Christly souls are one in him throughout the whole wide earth.