Last week, with respect to Heather Cook, suffragan Bishop of Maryland, who has been charged with several crimes, members of our senior high class asked how the sin of a Bishop affects the legitimacy and validity of the faith and sanctity of the church. Bishops, priests, deacons accept and are held to more rigorous moral standards by virtue of their ordination, but these same standards apply to all the baptized. It's just that ordained people who break them suffer vocational consequences. So as we ask how Heather Cook's sins affect the Church, we also ask how our own sins affect the legitimacy and validity of our own baptism.
All sin saddens and grieves the Body of Christ. But they do not paralyze us. Sin calls the Body of Christ into action at once marked by compassion, justice, healing, and reconciliation. Heather Cook has personal responsibility for her actions under the law, but she can't be the only one responsible within the Body of Christ. She is a member of the Body. She needs the Body to help her and the people affected by her. And the Body needs to respond.
This truth reminds us of something about Baptism. Baptism is the joining of our lives to God. In Baptism God bestows the righteousness and life of Jesus on us. Evil we have done, will do or fail to do, and evil we allow to be done on our behalf, all of it is forgiven. But far more important than the forgiveness of sin is the action we take in response to sin. We should never let sin stop us from enacting the compassion, justice, healing, and reconciliation of Christ. That is how the light shines in the darkness. That is how we see and show forth the face of God. God, help us.