Dear Companions on the Journey,
Earlier this summer I asked all people in our diocese to do two things: 1) Look for the presence of the Holy Spirit, and 2) choose to lead with our Christian faith rather than political affiliation for the summer.
If you have attempted either of these actions even a few times, then I imagine you have stories to tell about how to live as a faithful person in a decidedly non-Christian time. We Episcopalians have a proclivity to practice our faith privately. Scripture even seems to support our private piety. “Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6.)
Scripture encourages us to seek the solitude and quiet needed to strengthen our relationship with God. Alongside that theme of cultivating the stillness needed to know God’s greatness, is intertwined a continuous teaching about God’s justice. Such teaching in Holy Scripture demands our boldness as we support God’s love, mercy, and justice in a broken world. To know God is to know God’s justice. One does not exist without the other.
If you have not tried my suggestions to know God and God’s justice, then I want to encourage you to start now. Right away, there is no time to waste. We live at the deadly intersection of racism, oppression, and violence. Lives are at stake and political parties are not able to stand resolutely for Jesus’ message to love God above all things, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. To embody Jesus’ message is not the calling of our political parties, but it is most certainly our calling.
Jesus’ radical message to love God and love neighbor is meant to be shared by those who nurture their spiritual life in private and proclaim God’s justice so others can hear. It takes a resolute faith and a resilient spirit to do this. But we do not do it on our own; every Sunday we gather in prayer, song, and receive Holy Communion for more than solace and pardon. Every Sunday we receive God’s strength and renewal, and that propels us into the world to share God’s love and justice. (BCP Eucharistic Prayer C, p. 372.)
God gives us the strength needed to learn our history and face our present. God gives us the ability to speak up rather than remain silent when racist language is used around us. God gives us insight and intuition about the ways we are meant to be a loving and just presence in the world. God has made, called, and equipped us to be ready for just this time and for just these pressing needs.
Summer is not quite over. I urge you to spend these final weeks and days of summer knowing God and God’s justice and I look forward to hearing about your stories of faith and justice.
Grace and peace,