My dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
It has been a while since I have sat down and written some words to you. With the final phases of the Bishops Search Committee, our report to The Standing Committee and my time in Sewanee to refresh I have been absent from this Holy Place of All Saints. It is good to be back and to engage Christ here in this very Holy Place. I thank you all for your support, tolerance of the schedule I had to keep during the search but most of all for your prayers and love over the past year.
Much has happened that I could write about today: The four outstanding candidates for our next bishop, their information can be found at http://www.bishopsearchwnc.org/. I could share with you the holy rest and time I spent at Sewanee, however, I feel called and led to share with you a few words about our states new law HB2. It seems like we hear about it each and every day at numerous times and from many different sources. It is a subject that arose during our discernment retreat and it arises in many conversations I have had. So I thought I would express some of my thoughts (much of this comes from the joint letter of the three Episcopal Bishops in North Carolina).
In our baptismal covenant, we commit "to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being." For many, this is the most difficult promise in the covenant, as it calls us to move beyond our differences, expectations, fears, prejudices and misunderstandings about other people and meet them where they are. At times, it means standing up in the world and speaking truth to power, knowing that there will be resistance. This promise takes us out of our comfort zone and into the uncharted territory of God's grace.
The issue of discrimination is not partisan, nor is it secular. The practice of discrimination by a state or institution limits, even prohibits, us from respecting the dignity of another human being. It inhibits our very capacity to care for one another and to work for the common good. Actions such as this affect all people.
The bill does much more than say who must use a certain bathroom: It criminalizes behaviors which are not a problem (when was the last time you heard of an arrest about a transgender person using the bathroom of the gender they identify with); it prevents cities from establishing laws that protect marginalized persons; it makes it extremely difficult for those harmed, marginalized or discriminated against to seek redress in court; and, it restricts the ability to demand living wages, vacation and sick leave.
Simply put, HB2 does NOT allow us to "respect the dignity of every human being" and for that, we, as Christians, are called to work to repeal this law.
As a Church, we seek to love unconditionally as witnessed in the life of Jesus and follow his example by embracing those who are marginalized by society. We affirm that all people are created in the image of God and are loved by God.
We oppose laws supporting discrimination against anyone by race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, genetic information or disability.
Much has been written about the huge economic loss to North Carolina if HB2 stays on the books. I believe if that is the only reason the law is removed it says something very troubling about our understanding of "respecting the dignity of every human being." As already stated, we are called to love all, respect all, and serve all through the lens of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.
I fully understand that these are complex issues and that some of you may be "in the middle." That's OK, there is a place for you, a place at the table of love, openness, relationship and tension. It is what makes us who we are as Anglicans. In spite of our differences we come to the rail, kneel and raise our hands to receive the greatest gift of all, "the body and blood" Lord Jesus Christ.
Wendell Berry reminds us, "[For] Christians in positions of wealth and power, the idea of reading the Gospels and keeping Jesus' commandments as stated therein has been replaced by a curious process of logic. According to this process, people first declare themselves to be followers of Christ, and then they assume that whatever they say or do merits the adjective 'Christian'." May we be better than this and live our lives as we have been called to live them, as our Savior, the radical Messiah from Nazareth, taught us!
See ya Sunday!
All Saints Messenger >