The alleluias rang out on Easter Sunday, celebrating the Resurrection. The hymns were sung with greater volume, reflecting the joy of the day and more voices in church.
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I often wondered why Jesus left the comfort of Galilee to go down south to the chaos of Jerusalem. He had things worked out pretty well in the rural north. He had developed a loyal, if not quixotic following. He was able to teach, heal and challenge without repercussions.
On Saturday, March 4, representatives from 43 congregations in the diocese spent a half day learning how to participate in a three month "Listening excursion," which would involve making space to listen to scripture, each other and to the local community. They will be invited back on Saturday, June 3 to reflect on what they learned and to discern next steps in this ongoing journey into a new way of living.
I have been thinking a lot about the dynamics of listening, partly because we did a lot of listening at our Diocesan Convention. And partly because we are slated to more of it on Saturday, March 4, when people from across the diocese will gather for a morning to learn how they might design a three month “excursion of listening” in their congregation and community.
Sermon Preached on the Feast of Absalom Jones at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City (Episcopal Diocese of New York)
Good Morning Church!! First off, I want to thank the New York Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians, your Diocesan Anti-Racism Committee, the Diocesan Reparations Committee, and the Bishops, Clergy, and Lay Persons of the Diocese of New York for granting me the honor and privilege of preaching here this morning.
At our 2016 Diocesan Convention I named a reality that seems to have resonance across the diocese. I said that business as usual is no longer an option.
In that address I identified a core question: How do we go on a journey together, to discern what God is up to in our neighborhoods, and then join God there in that work?
I believe – we believe – that God is inviting us into a new way of living together and this core question guide us on the journey.
In the northern hemisphere, Advent coincided with the onset of winter. As the days grew shorter, the weather colder, and as the earth began its annual shedding of vegetative life, people brought evergreens into their homes, which provided a hope that the earth had not yet died. In the early weeks of Advent, not so many candles were needed on the wreath, because the nights were not yet so long. But by the time the solstice arrived, on the shortest day of the year, more candles were necessary to provide adequate light, but also to rekindle hope.
The outcome was unexpected. And for me, unwanted. I anticipated that a lot of people would feel hurt, confused and angry on November 9, but I didn’t figure I would be one of them.
That said, beneath all the swirling feelings, I feel called – in two distinct but related ways.
Love does not exist unless it is given away. In the Christian faith, God gave God’s love away by creating the Incarnation – which was the person of Jesus. And Jesus’ love for humanity was given away when he offered himself up to death. God gave Jesus, and Jesus gave his life – all done in a love that was given away. And in both cases, the love continues.
Easter is the witness that love is stronger than death.
Matthew 27: 61 “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb”