Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"I Swear..."

”I swear that I will do my utmost to preserve and enhance confidence in the financial-services industry. So help me God.”

The oath, according to the news on the radio the other day, is the first of its kind in Europe.  For those who break the oath and fail to abide by the rules there are sanctions - blacklisting or facing fines or suspensions. The quarter part of me that is Dutch is very proud.  The three quarters part of me that is British is rather shame faced. If only it was an oath that all bankers are required to give! 

I can see the minions of the Bank of England running about in panic.  They would probably choke on the words and start to hunt for loopholes to exploit!  In the meantime they award themselves obscene bonuses.

I think the “So help me God” was optional and no one was obliged to put a hand on a Bible as they spoke.

It is all very noble but an oath can just a string of words.  People make them and break them every day of the week. Who’s to say how sincere someone is about that string of words? Are they genuinely committed to preserving and enhancing MY confidence in the financial services industry?  Are they really going to be held to account?

”I swear that I will do my utmost to preserve and enhance confidence in God and in His church. So help me God.”

I don’t think the Bible has a particularly positive stance on oath taking.  Our “Yes” should simply be “Yes” without tying it into anything.  We shouldn’t need anything more than that.  Our honesty should stand by itself.  

What promises do Christians make? The first thing that came to mind was baptism. I know that some churches have a particular liturgy that covers certain things.  I was baptised both as a baby and an adult.  Some folks would hold that once is sufficient and twice is going overboard.  I felt that something was required when I came to faith as an adult.  I am not sure that I remember making any particular promises as I emerged from the Mediterranean Sea once cold and breezy spring Sunday afternoon. 

A quick internet search of baptismal promises reveals this set of questions from one denomination.

As a disciple of Christ will you continue in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayer?

With the help of God, i will.

Will you proclaim the good news by word and deed, serving Christ in all people?

With the help of God, i will.

Will you work for justice and peace, honouring God in all creation?

With the help of God, i will.

I can’t think of any biblical accounts of baptism where the person being baptised says anything.  It is a presumption that a person will live differently with God at the centre with no need to say that they will.

I am thinking about Lent.  I have a few weeks yet before it begins.  You may take the Roman Catholic girl out of the church, but you can’t take the church out of the girl! It is just in the last few years that my heart has stayed towards celebrating Lent.  I do it not out of a sense of obligation or guilt, but simply because it’s an opportunity to draw close to God.
I found this sentence on a websiteThe renewal of our baptismal promises is the goal of Lent.”

It is a time to think about how thoroughly I immerse myself in the teaching of the Bible and whether my fellowship with other Christians, and with God, builds and edifies.  My prayer life might have improved but there is still a long way to go. It’s a time to challenge myself about whether the message I bring to the world, in words and actions, is a clear one, or a powerful one. I talk a lot about justice and peace but have to question whether I am doing anything to bring them about.

I want to work with God to be all that He intends me to be.

With the help of God, i will.

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