This letter was sent to all clergy in the Diocese of C4SO on Friday afternoon. I thought it was so good that I wanted the readers of my blog to see it. Some of these thoughts are mine, but that is not what make is good. Canon to the Ordinary Kimberley Pfeiler took these remarks and those of Bishop Todd after the Orlando shooting, added her own pastoral comments, and developed this letter from all of us on the Staff Leadership Team in C4SO.
As an introduction, I quote the Apostle Paul: For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling…we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)
July 8th, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The terrible events in Dallas last night have left us in great sorrow, even as our nation still grieves fresh victims of injustice. These tragedies are a direct affront to our humanity and an insult to all who care about liberty, justice, and the value of human life.
We grieve for those who have been killed, we mourn with their families, and we weep for our communities and our nation. But we do not grieve alone. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha over the loss of Lazarus, and He weeps with us today. And the joy of the Incarnation is that He didn’t just commiserate with us. He took our pain to the cross and suffered and died for it. While we live in a broken world, where things like this can happen, the story does not end here. We will see the day when evil does not have the ability to separate us from one another and turn us against each other, and sickness and violence can no longer touch us.
Everything in us wants to bring that day now. But all of our ideas and debates, all of the clamor on various media, all of our human efforts fall short because we still live in a fallen world. Our comfort must come in the Kingdom truth that humanity remains God’s project. The same God, who in the Garden said, “Adam, where are you, ?” is saying to humanity today, “Where are you?” And this just reminds us that while there’s no cure from within us, there is a cure from without us, there is a cure from the God who is wholly other.
And our invitation is to join Jesus in His aims – to seek, to announce, to demonstrate and embody the goodness, the competence and the reality of God’s Kingdom among us. This is important, because while many things dear to us seem to be at risk, the Kingdom of God, the expression of God’s purposes are never at risk. And we’re invited, in our pastoral ministry, to derive our sense of meaning from that, and to live our lives from within that reality. So despite the constant drumbeat and heartrending news that comes through our news feeds day in and day out, remember: God’s initiatives are always at work amongst us and let us seek to join Him there.
Our prayers are with you as you prepare for this Sunday. The Gospel and Psalms will have special poignancy in this context.
Sunday will be a special day of remembrance in Dallas, Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge. We invite you to join us in prayer for these communities, and for your own. You may choose to use the one from the Book of Common Prayer (1979):
Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the world and our country. Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We also invite you to pray for the issues of race and violence in the Prayers of the People this weekend. Also, please pray for the men and women of our law enforcement agencies. They are here to serve and to protect. We owe them, in many cases, our lives.
With gratitude, we always remember that The Lord is King,
Bishop Todd Hunter (on Sabbatical)
Dean David Roseberry
Canon Kimberley Pfeiler
Churches for the Sake of Others