Monday, June 11, 2018

From Fr. Richard Rohr

"Note that Jesus reserves his most damning and dualistic statements for matters of social justice where power is most resistant: 'You cannot serve both God and mammon' (Matthew 6:24); 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God' (Matthew 19:24); or the clear dichotomy in Matthew 25 between sheep (who feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned) and goats (who don’t). The context is important. Jesus’ foundational and even dualistic bias is against false power and in favor of the powerless. If you do not make such points absolutely clear (and even if you do, as Jesus did), history shows that humans will almost always compromise on issues of justice, power, money, and inclusion.
Let’s bring it home: The United States always has all the money it needs for war, weapons, and bailing out banks, but never enough for good schools, low cost housing, universal health care, or welcoming refugees. Has this not become obvious? No wonder Jesus dared to be dualistic and dramatic first! He offers clear, contrasting statements about issues of ultimate significance and calls us to decide between them. His point is always transformation.
Unfortunately, Christians have managed to avoid most of what Jesus taught so unequivocally: nonviolence, sharing, simplicity, loving our enemies. Thankfully many Christians are returning to Jesus’ foundational messages and seeking to follow his example. They are not shying away from the embarrassments and evils of our churches, politics, and economy and the ways we each contribute to and are complicit in them."
- Richard Rohr
ART: Lateral door in the Church of Saint John the Baptist, Coyoacán, Mexico City, México. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Presiding Bishop Curry to participate in May 24 procession, vigil to the White House

Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs
Posted 4 hours ago
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will join other faith leaders and elders in Washington, DC to launch the Reclaiming Jesus Declaration at a church service followed by a silent candlelight vigil to the White House on Thursday, May 24.
All are invited to attend the event, beginning at 7 pm Eastern at the National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW, Washington DC. At the Church Service, Presiding Bishop Curry will join 10 other faith leaders and elders in prayer and preaching.
Following the church service, at 8:30 pm an estimated crowd of more than 1000 will follow Presiding Bishop Curry and the faith leaders and elders as they process from National City Christian Church to the White House.
“The church service, the procession to the White House, and silent candlelight vigil is planned in response to the moral and political crises at the highest levels of political leadership that are putting both the soul of the nation and the integrity of Christian faith at stake,” noted the Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners. “The elders call upon all Christians to remember that our identity in Jesus precedes every other identity.”
The Reclaiming Jesus Declaration is located here.
The Episcopal Church Office of Communications will livestream the church service, procession and silent vigil.  The livestream is available here.
The service at the National City Christian Church begins at 7 pm Eastern. The procession to the White House begins at 8:30 pm Eastern. The silent candlelight vigil is expected to begin at 8:45 pm to 10 pm Eastern.
Religious Leaders and Elders
The religious leaders and elders represent many Christian traditions – evangelical, mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, and African-American churches.
Including Presiding Bishop Curry, others participating in the church service and vigil will be:
  • The Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Tony Campolo, Co-Founder, Red Letter Christians
  • The Rev. Dr. James Forbes, President and Founder, Healing of the Nations Foundation and Preaching Professor at Union Theological Seminary
  • The Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary Emeritus, Reformed Church in America
  • The Rev. Dr. Richard Hamm, former General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Fr. Richard Rohr, Founder, Center for Action and Contemplation
  • Dr. Ron Sider, President Emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action
  • The Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners
  • The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, Director, NCC Truth and Racial Justice Initiative
  • Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Convener, National African American Clergy Network; President, Skinner Leadership Institute
Preregistration for participation in the church service, procession and vigil is not required; however, participants are encouraged to mark their attendance on Facebook here.
Response to Detonated Package at St. Stephen’s, Beaumont
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This morning I received word that a package bomb went off on the front steps of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Beaumont, Texas between the last service yesterday and early this morning. I have spoken with the Rev. Steven Balke, rector of the congregation, who noticed immediate damage when he arrived at the church this morning observing blown out windows, traces of the detonated package, and holes in the walls. I give thanks to God that no one was hurt in this incident.
All Saints’ Episcopal School has been evacuated and the church and the school will remain closed until further notice. The FBI is on scene and is currently investigating what happened as there was a similar event at a Beaumont Starbucks on April 27. As more information becomes known, I will be sure to update you all. Please be sure to check the EDOT website and social media pages for the latest updates.
Our main concern right now is the pastoral care needs of the congregation and school are met. We are sending Bishop Monterroso, Carol Barnwell, director of communications, and the Rev. Canon Joann Saylors to be with them in Beaumont; Bishop Fisher will be there tomorrow. In the meantime, Bishops Fisher, Harrison, Monterroso, and I ask for your prayers for Steven Balke and his family, the St. Stephen’s and All Saints’ staff, the first responders, and all those affected by this incident.
The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle
IX Bishop of Texas

Friday, April 20, 2018

From Bishop Doyle:

Barbara Bush said, "Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give." This gentle, humble, and caring woman gave of herself to others. She gave herself to the nation, to school children, to her church, and to her family. From a factory during WWII, to reading programs, church groups, and the White House she has been a giver. The nation mourns her loss as it has done so for other amazing first ladies. Her Episcopal Church family mourns her loss and gathers around her family in this time. And, we find meaning in this time, shaped not by death, but by resurrection. So, we with others celebrate a life well lived punctuated by giving. And, we celebrate her inheritance with the saints in light whom we love but see no longer. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Presiding Bishop's Easter Message

Hello on Palm Sunday from St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem.
There is a passage in the 27th Chapter of Matthew’s gospel where religious leaders, political leaders come together once again after Jesus has been crucified and executed, after he had been buried in the tomb. Once again they come together to seal the tomb, to make sure not even a rumor of his resurrection will happen.  And this is what some of them say:
Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may go and steal him away and tell the people he has been raised from the dead. And the last deception will be the worse than the first.
It is easy to overlook, and sometimes convenient to forget, that Jesus was executed, Jesus was crucified by an unholy alliance of religion, politics, and economic self-interest.
Politics represented in Pontius Pilate, governor of the Roman Empire, representative of that very empire and all of its power.
King Herod, who heard Jesus at one of the trials, representative of the Herodian and economic self-interest at the time.
The Chief Priest, representative of religious aristocracies who had a vested interest in the status quo.
These three powers came together – economic, religious and political – to crucify the one who taught love the lord your God, love your neighbor, and actually live that way.
The truth is the message of Jesus was unsettling to the world then as it is unsettling to the world now.  And yet that very message is the only source of hope in life for the way of the cross, the way of unselfish living, the way of sacrificial living, seeking the good, the welfare of the other before one’s own unenlightened self-interest. That way of the cross is the way of love. That is the nature of love.  And that way is the only hope for the entire human family.
The reality is the way of Jesus was a threat to the way that the world is, and hope for the way the world can and will be.
But on that third day after the crucifixion, when by the titanic power of God, by the power of the love of God, Jesus was raised from the dead.  God sent a message and declared that death does not have the last word. Hatred does not have the last word. Violence does not have the last word. Bigotry does not have the last word. Sin, evil do not have the last word. The last word is God, and God is love.
On our pilgrimage here, we stopped and spent two days in Jordan. In Amman, Jordan, we were able to spend some sacred and blessed and painful time with Iraqi Christians. These are Christians, many of whom are Anglican, who have fled their country in Iraq because of war and violence and hatred and desecration. They have given up everything, refusing to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. And there in Jordan, with the help of the Anglican Church there and many other relief agencies, they are at least safe, hoping to find safe and permanent homes in other countries.
In the course of our conversations, and listening to them, at one point I found myself quoting a hymn, a song that many folk have heard around Easter, certainly in our country.  And I didn’t expect a response. You probably know how it goes – it says,“because he lives,” referring to Jesus and his resurrection, “because he lives, I can face tomorrow.” When I quoted that song, those who have lost their homes, people who have lost everything except life itself, those who have lost loved ones, actually responded to the words of that song. When I said,“Because He lives I can face tomorrow.” When I said Jesus is alive, He’s been raised from the dead, I saw them lift up their heads and respond with the words amen, hallelujah.
My brothers and sisters, evil could not stop him. Death could not stop him. Violence could not stop him.  For the love of God, the heart of God, the reality of God is stronger than anything else.  And Jesus really rose from the dead on that first resurrection morning.
God love you.  God bless you. And, may this Easter season be the first day of the rest of our lives.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Presiding Bishop, others begin campaign to ‘reclaim Jesus in US culture

[Episcopal News Service] A group of Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders, including Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, have begun what they call a campaign to “reclaim Jesus” from those who they believe are using Christian theology for political gain.
“We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches,” say the 23 signers of the statement. “We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.”
The group says the church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ, while the government should serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior. “When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out,” the signers say, citing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who said the church is the conscience of the state, not its master or its servant.
“Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis” offers six “affirmations” of what the group, currently 23 strong, believes, “and the resulting rejections of practices and policies by political leaders which dangerously corrode the soul of the nation and deeply threaten the public integrity of our faith.
“We pray that we, as followers of Jesus, will find the depth of faith to match the danger of our political crisis.”
In summary, the signers, in their the affirmations and rejections, said they believe:
  • Each human being is made in God’s image and likeness, and therefore, “we reject the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership.”
  • We are one body and, therefore, “we reject misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God.”
  • “How we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself,” and, therefore, “we reject the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God.”
  • “Truth is morally central to our personal and public lives,” and, therefore, they reject “the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life.”
  • Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination, and, therefore, “we reject any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule… raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority.”
  • Jesus “tells us to go into all nations making disciples,” and, therefore, they reject “‘America first’ as a theological heresy for followers of Christ.”
The statement says in its conclusion that “our urgent need, in a time of moral and political crisis, is to recover the power of confessing our faith. Lament, repent, and then repair.”
The Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, and Curry began talking earlier this year about the need for such a statement. The signers agreed to the wording of the statement at an Ash Wednesday retreat that Curry hosted at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
“I joined with other Christian church leaders on this confession of what faith in times like these require,” Curry said March 22 in a statement to Episcopal News Service. “When faced with social issues, our Church has not been silent and we will continue to strive for justice and peace. Our role is one of moral leadership for our nation, for our church, for ourselves.”
The “Reclaiming Jesus” message, Wallis said in a March 22 commentary on the Sojourners website, needed to be “something that would be much more than just another statement to sign and then file away.
“Rather, with a shared humble spirit, we felt called to act as elders for a time such as this and to commend our message to the churches for a process of prayer, study, reflection, and action.”
Wallis called his commentary “Reclaiming Jesus: How Confessing Faith Can Respond to a Moral and Constitutional Crisis.”
The signers have set up a website, Reclaiming Jesus, where the statement and a one-page summary can be downloaded. There is also due to be a collection of resources in addition to a five-week “civil discourse curriculum” that already has been released.