Bishop's Writing / Enews March
Dear Friends in Christ,
The theme of the Spring Retreat of the House of Bishops was Discipleship in This Moment. The state of the church and the world was very much on our minds. Across the 17 countries of The Episcopal Church, communities of faith are struggling with the after effects of the pandemic, the onset of significant inflation, and the rise of authoritarianism. People of faith everywhere are asking how to follow Jesus in these days.
I can’t claim that the bishops came up with new or original responses to this pressing question, but several motifs emerged that I think are important to share.
The first is to begin where you are with who you are. That is to say, your call is to be the person you were called to be. You are good enough and more for the ministry of Christ. Too often we think that ministry needs to be grand. In fact, ministry must begin with who you are and where you are. Maybe the impact you have is simply with your family and your co-workers. Well, that’s where you begin. Your kindness, your compassion, your love matter. God values the good work you do in the place where you are.
The second is to remember that part of our call is to do justice. All across the world, fearful voices are raising barriers to protect themselves from “others,” to drive the “others” away. Those “others” are persons created in the image of God for whom Christ died. We have a call to love them and speak for them. Again, it may only be in our neighborhoods, our school districts, our villages, but that’s where we are called to speak. To love our neighbors as ourselves is key to the ministry we share.
The third follows from the second. ALL our neighbors matter. Ministry is not about winning, but about reconciling all people with God and one another in Christ. In the heated debates of the moment, we are seeking to bring people together into Beloved Community. We may be passionate about our convictions, yet we all belong at the table together. As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, Only love can overcome hate. Our love for one another needs to be clear.
Finally, in the midst of the press of our days, we need to care for ourselves. Prayer, rest and joy are critical for the long term. Our hectic schedules need to allow for time with friends and family, for silence, for fun. As Jesus withdrew, so may we. Without love and joy, life can become pretty bleak. Make sure you take time to laugh.
Our times are simply that: our times. These are neither the best of times, nor the worst of times. Like Christians in every time, the work before is the same: to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. The work of Lent is to ask how we might refresh and renew our call to love and serve. May we not spend our Lent regretting the ways we have failed, but rather refreshing ourselves for discipleship in these days.
With thanksgiving for all you do and great affection for you all,