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

Remember who we are God gives us our identity as Christ's own

October 16, 2014

By the Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
VIII Episcopal Bishop in Rochester

As we take in the beauty of this season with its various nuances of color, I am conscious that tranquility is juxtaposed by the harsh overtones of violence/violation in our world - be it the destruction caused by homicides in our city, ISIS, Ebola, domestic violence or the systemic history of violence as it relates to Native Americans in this country. We continue to discern ways to meaningfully repent for our overt embrace or covert collusion with the Doctrine of Discovery that has significantly shaped our identity as nation and as Church. We continue to struggle with the chronic reality of racism and its virulent ripples most recently evidenced in Ferguson, MO.

I invite you as fellow followers of Christ to consider a few ways to spiritually engage this landscape of fear, violence and the chronic nervousness that plays a role in a season such as this.

First, I pray that we remember who gives us our identity. The Psalmist (in 121) says: “my help comes from the Lord.” If we replace help with identity, we are reminded of our God-given identity that is wholesome. Just as deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA is the genetic carrier of memory that affects generations in terms of character traits, we who are baptized have a DNA of our own from above. I like to think of the Church and every believer as a carrier of our identity, as Distinctive Natal Agents. Our spiritual birth or rebirth is marked by our baptism as Christ’s own. This natal, beloved state motivates our agency to “put on” our identity as new creation in Christ, in whom all things are made new. Other identity traits we may have inherited could impact us psychosomatically in self- or other-destructive ways. Christ invites us to pursue that which is better. I find this new creation memory to be transformative and regenerative at its spiritual core because it is also a place of agency where we can choose our better self over our fearful or negative self.

Second, we can ensure that we hang out with persons and media that help us get out of being narcissistic or being unduly fascinated with ourselves. In my opinion, whether it is bullying, shaming, hatred, murder or violation of the other, the motivation to cause harm to another, however righteous such motivation is, stems from a place of pure or quasi narcissism. Jesus clearly saw this proclivity in humans to warn us that, “The last will be first and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:16.

Third, we can bring humble and positive attitudes to our daily interactions, whether they are personal or professional, to build our unity in Christ. Peacemaking happens in intentional places where individuals make the determination to be generative transmitters of the peace of Christ. No matter what our grief or loss, passion or mission, we all have a God-given capacity to radiate this light. During these times when the grim realities in our larger world are fraught with violence of many kinds, let us be peacemakers with one another. Let us not belittle one another especially when we disagree. The quintessential prayer of Jesus, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21), is the very heart of God.

I give thanks to God for my beloved Roja as we celebrate our twenty-third anniversary this weekend. We are a work in progress and loving it! May love and peace surround you and yours as you bless one another!

+Prince