I renounce…

In baptism and the affirmation of baptism, we profess our faith together like we do most weeks in worship. But unlike our usual profession of faith, which usually involves some proclamation of a creed or statement of belief, in the baptism and affirmation of baptism liturgies, the creed is prefaced with three questions.

The presiding minister begins, “I ask you to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, reject sin, and confess the faith of the church.”

And from here, the liturgy moves into the questions:

Q: Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God?
A: I renounce them.

Q: Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God?
A: I renounce them.

Q: Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from God?
A: I renounce them.

These questions then are followed by three questions which are responded to by the three articles of the Apostles’ Creed. If you would like to see the order as in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, see pages 229 and/or 235 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. 

I am thinking about these questions of renunciation today because it feels appropriate and important that as we profess our faith in God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God the Holy Spirit, that we also renounce the forces that work against God. As we renounce the devil and evil and sin that draws us against God, we renounce:

  • White Supremacy
  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Ageism
  • Bigotry
  • Violence
  • Homophobia
  • Xenophobia

The list could and should be longer, but this is a start. And so you don’t think this is a hypothetical exercise, please hear me publicly offer my renunciation:

baptismal waters
As we remember and affirm our baptisms, we remember the cross we are marked and sealed with. We remember what it represents. We profess our faith, and renounce all the forces that are antithetical to it.

I, Timothy Siburg, renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God. I renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God. I renounce the ways of sin that draw me from God. Among these, I renounce particularly today: white supremacy; racism; sexism; ageism; bigotry and violence in all its forms; homophobia; xenophobia, and all fears that prevent us from being in relationship with one another.

I know that I am not perfect. I am a sinner, after all. I know that I have work to do to continue to renounce these things in my own heart, but the work begins by publicly naming and acknowledging the problems.

We all must name the sins and evil. We all must confront it, both inside ourselves and in our communities. When we name it, and call it what it is as theologians of the cross do, we start on the way towards reconciliation. It’s hard work. It’s a long road. But we cannot be silent. I cannot be silent.

Will you join me? Will you be a bearer of God’s peace and love? Will you live among God’s faithful people? Will you hear God’s word and share in the Lord’s supper? Will you proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed? Will you serve all people, following the example of Jesus? Will you strive for justice and peace in all the earth?

These questions are the ones that follow the creed in the baptismal liturgy, the ones where affirmation is made in the presence of the assembly, and also ones that are made by baptismal families in the sacrament of baptism.

Today we call evil what it is, evil. Today we name it. Today we confront it. Together, we hold hands, we pray, we sing, we march, we hope, and we do the hard work of sharing God’s love and helping God’s light and truth shine. We cannot and will not be silent. Because in order to renounce something, you have to speak up, and say, “I renounce…” 

Do you? 

Source: Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006. Pages 225-237.

Image Credit: Baptismal waters


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