Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, as a way of life

Rejoice, Pray and Live Thankfully

November 16, 2017

Dear saints,

We had a rich 86th Convention of the Diocese. We prayed, engaged, sang, gave, broke bread, celebrated, listened and learned together. Thank you all for your prayers. I thank the delegates, guests and all the leaders for their role in helping us do some good work together. All good wishes and prayers for our elected and appointed bodies as they organize themselves and help govern us. May we steward our relationships as leaders and followers of Christ who move forward together!

Scripture commends us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, (and) give thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Starting with Jesus in all things is a good orientation to rejoice, pray and live thankfully. As followers of Christ, when we don’t start with Jesus of Nazareth we should not be surprised when we are muddled in subjection to Mammon, pernicious violence or chronic dissent. For this reason, I believe, it is important to put our narratives of origin in perspective. Like good and bad water, life, liturgy or ethics, if the origin is off the destination is destined to be off, too. If bitterness is what we sow, then that is what we will reap. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let us pause to reflect on our narrative of origin as a people. This nation has been in a continuous struggle with its identity because there is confusion about its narrative of origin. If the claimed narrative of origin is fraught only with conquest, pillage, coercion and violence we should not be surprised at iterations of manifest destiny no matter how many generations try technical fixes.

Our origin stories in Genesis and our redemption stories in the Gospels are a blend of our brokenness and God’s goodness. Therefore, it is so important for us to pay attention to our Baptismal and Confirmation liturgies. In both these, we have centrally placed renunciation of evil or wicked spiritual forces that rebel against God, and the renewal of commitment to Jesus Christ together. Like breathing, one addresses letting go of our brokenness while the other reorients us based on whose we are. Without daily renouncing the evil of racism and all forms of stark or nuanced discrimination we are less than what our baptism sacramentally intends when we are marked as Christ’s own forever. Renouncing evil is our responsibility and it becomes possible because of the deep and abiding abundance of God’s love. Our responsibility stems out of grace and more grace radiates from our responsible stewardship!

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, as we gather to break bread as families and friends, let us rejoice, pray, give thanks and give with generous abandon to support health and wellness in our church and community.

I am grateful for our Diocese and I am grateful for you!

With affection,