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This letter came from Bishop Peter in support of those of us who are clergy.
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This letter came from Bishop Peter in support of those of us who are clergy. I feel that it is full of thoughts for all of us. So I am reposting it for you.

 

A Message to the Clergy                                                                   Saturday,  9 July 2016 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

It is almost two years since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.    Since that day we have seen act after act in an accumulation of sickening violence that leaves us all exhausted, fearful, and on the verge of despair.   Nor does there appear to be an end of it.   There seems so little political will, and so much reactivity.   Can we ever build a just society in our country?   Will we ever see the sort of change that really makes a difference?   What is the role of the Church, and of each of us?

 

And this is only the surface of things.   The terrible truth is that our black and brown sisters and brothers, our LGBT sisters and brothers, the working poor, the homeless, so many abused women, countless trafficked children, and all who are members of groups that are disadvantaged, discriminated against, or vulnerable know that all kinds of violence that we never see has been going on in our communities for generations.   The normalization of violence, systemic racism, and epidemic poverty and their consequences are a lethal threat to any civilized society. Nowhere should it be acceptable that the sound of children playing in the streets of our residential neighborhoods should be ousted by the sound of gunfire.

 

Tomorrow we read one of the best loved of all the parables in the Gospel of Saint Luke – the parable of the Good Samaritan.   That parable is a gift as well as a challenge.   The gift is obvious, for the question “Who is my neighbor?” lies at the heart not just of our understanding of the human person made in the image and likeness of God.   It also provokes the conversation that we who are Christians want to have about the kind of society in which we want to live.   It is both a spiritual and a political question, and its ramifications are, potentially, life-changing.

 

During the last year, as I have been making my way round the diocese to listen and to learn, I have been asking questions precisely about some of the issues we face, and how we as a community of Christians in this region may live and speak effectively.   Like so many of you, I am not interested in the predictable response.   I am much more interested in the deeper work, and I am looking forward to opportunities to explore with you how we can move beyond this place where in both Church and society we seem to be stuck.

 

One of our responsibilities as those who have given ourselves to the ordained life is precisely to be those who live in that tricky place between what is, and what ought to be, and to be able to articulate what ought to be and to struggle with how to help our communities make what ought to be more and more of what actually can be, here and now.   That point at which what is meets what ought to be is Good Friday, and it is also Easter Day.    Our hope rests in the certainty that what is in our nation and in our world is not at all the life we were created for, and that God, who has not only rescued us from slavery but also from the power of death will work through us to bring to reality for all precisely that fullness of life that is a glimpse of the age that is to come.

 

The other evening Kate and I were at a concert in North Miami, and at one point the artist sang “I would rather give a bit of my heart than a piece of my mind.”   At one level I take her point:  my ability to love is more enduring that any opinion I may have.   Love is always our best response.   But for us who are Christians in a tradition that has long wrestled with the complexities of human living and relating, we have no refuge from hard, long, and exacting thinking, so that our loving and acting may be the more complete and secure.

 

Let us continue, as I know that you do every day, to pray for our country, for those who die every day by acts of human violence, especially here in Southeast Florida, for those who grieve, and for all those who are working tirelessly to change the unjust structures of our society that bind us all.

 

With affection and prayers.

+Peter

 

 


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