This week, in the wake of the election, we are even more divided than we were last week - a feat that I didn't think was possible. For liberals, hope feels out of reach. For those who have championed our President-elect, these have been good days. And yet, tensions continue to rise. We are divided along so many different lines - struggling to hear each other over the chaos and ill-will. In response to this division, our Bishops in Connecticut have issued this letter. As I always am, I'm grateful for their wisdom and their faithfulness.
As Christians, most of us are familiar with Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." I've returned to this phrase again and again in the days since the election - they've almost become a mantra for me. When the ground shakes, and the world shifts, it's important for us to remember as people of faith that our God doesn't change. What this means for us is that the part of us that comes from God doesn't change either - and by extension, neither does our work. Because Jesus is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Our work of welcoming the immigrant, seeking justice, respecting the dignity of every human being, is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. No matter what changes around us, this job description does not.
While we may stand at different places on the political spectrum, we are one in Christ. We are one Body, connected by faith, sacrament, and the mystery of God. We are responsible for one another - and for the peace of the world. So, while we seek peace and reconciliation, let's also remember to claim space at the table for all of our neighbors. While we try to move forward together, let's also remember that there are many among us who now are afraid. Who worry about the whole host of concrete ways their lives, and the lives of those they love, feel threatened. And let us remember that as Christians, it is our job not only to speak peace - but to work for it. To proclaim to the world that a light shines in the darkness and that the darkness can never overcome it. To claim for each one of our neighbors a place at the table that God sets for all of us - the feast prepared from the foundation of the world.
In God's abundance, there is space at this table for all of us. And it is my deep belief that Christ still goes looking especially for those who are left out, lost, oppressed, and excluded. Throughout his life on earth, Jesus sought out these people - and we are called to this work, too - by virtue of our faith, by virtue of our baptism. We are resurrection and reconciliation people. We believe that hope is never truly lost - that life always triumphs over death - and that with God all things are possible. We also believe in forgiveness, in redemption - and in the truth that we are all made in the image of God. And we promise in our Baptismal Covenant to love all people, "[to] seek and serve Christ in all persons," and "[to] respect the dignity of every human being" (BCP, 305).
In the midst of the messiness of this life, hold fast to the truth that Jesus lives; and that because of his life, you also live. He is the same today as he was yesterday - as he will be tomorrow. I don't say this because I want to minimize the effect of fear and isolation. For many of us, this feeling is both real and overwhelming. We are encouraged by Jesus and the church to participate in the life of the world around us - and so it is good and right that we do so. But even as we participate, we must remember that even though we live in this world, we are not of this world. We are called and chosen to be citizens of the household of God. And this citizenship makes us who we are. Because of this citizenship, there is nothing anyone can do to change the most important part of you: that you are God's beloved.
You are loved so completely, so fully by our God that your mind, your heart, your body cannot hold it all. Nothing you can ever do, nor anything anyone else can ever do, not life or death or powers or anything else in all creation can separate you from this love. This love doesn't go away because of who you love, it isn't limited because of the color of your skin, it isn't conditional on your wanting it, your education, your tax bracket, or anything else that you can think of. This love is for you - and it stays with you - so that you can give it away. And because of that - we have work to do. To make the table longer. To draw the circle wider. To seek justice and love mercy and claim safe space for all of our neighbors - especially the poor, the lonely, the sick, and the outcast - because Jesus was especially fond of them.
Looking forward to being with you on Sunday. I'm enclosing below one of the prayers we said today at Morning Prayer as we offered special prayers for our nation.
Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun. Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will glorify your holy Name. Amen. (BCP, 839)