Coming together as the Body of Christ: A Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends,

This week, we as a nation participated in the election of our next president; the campaign was often polarizing, contained hateful language and hurtful rhetoric, and raised legitimate issues. Many of us are bewildered as to how we have arrived at this place of major division among good and faithful people; some are confused at other people’s reaction to the results; some are elated at the results, others are distraught and afraid. Wherever you find yourself, please know that on Sunday morning, we will come together as the Body of Christ, united by a love which is more powerful than any division humankind can construct, united by a love centered in the healing balm of Jesus, united by a love which calls us to see the face of Christ in each other, and united by a love which is about moving forward in reconciliation.

Here are some assurances I offer you:
1) I am your pastor. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, whatever your reaction to the result of the election might be, I am your pastor. I am called, and I believe that it is my responsibility, privilege and joy, to meet you wherever you are, in any situation, with love. This, I promise you, will always be true.

2) I am your priest. I believe and affirm that the Lord’s table is broad and wide, and that all are invited. Especially in the Episcopal Church, we believe that our diversity is our strength, as we live into our baptismal covenant and respect the dignity of all people.  I believe that by God’s might we will be nourished for the work ahead, helping us to build and live into the policies and future state of the nation, which will bring God’s kingdom ever nearer.
3) I am your teacher. I will continue to preach the gospel, the good news of Christ, which, at times, will be challenging to some and comforting to others. I am also here to sit with you, listen to you, explore your questions, and offer resources to help you look at the social justice issues raised in this election and explore how the heart of the gospel informs our decisions. I look forward to the time when we as a people can find ways to come together to have conversations on these issues, to make positive changes in our community which protect the rights of all and draw the marginalized into the center of God’s care, by our actions.When Mother Betsy and I were walking the streets in the Old City in Jerusalem last week, I said to someone, who was kind enough to offer us directions, “I love your city!”. He replied, “Oh, it’s not my city. It’s everyone’s city. When we can figure out how to live in peace here, the whole world will be at peace.” I feel that same way about our parish. We are poised to be an example to others, to be a community that finds a sense of peace among people who care for each other, who respect one another, who want to learn from one another, who can hold different opinions and still all kneel at the rail and praise the God who loves us all.

Forgiveness, patience, perseverance, generosity of spirit, dedication and commitment to something bigger than ourselves will be required of each of us as we move forward as a parish community and as a nation. I trust God will pour God’s grace upon us so we can do this hard and holy work.

In Christ’s love,
Mother Barbara+

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