from Bishop Brown
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Alleluia! Christ has risen. The Lord is risen, indeed. Alleluia!
It is a joy to celebrate this feast of the resurrection with you, my brothers and sisters in Delaware. This year, we recount the resurrection of Jesus Christ through the gospel of Luke. Luke tells us that when his faithful followers came to the tomb fully expecting to find his body, fully prepared to anoint it as you do for the dead, they were stunned to find messengers there, waiting for them. The messengers asked why? Why do you look for the living among the dead? He’s not here. He has risen. And, in that moment, God placed an undeniable stamp upon the life, witness, and ministry of Jesus Christ, the very Jesus who at his baptism God said, “this is my beloved in whom I am well pleased.” Now God says, “this is the life of God. The life of Jesus is the life of me.”
We too can participate in the resurrection, and that is a joy that we share as Christians, with the promise that death is not the final answer. It emboldens us to live lives that matter — to be willing to take risks for love, to be willing to stand up and speak out for those who are unable to speak on their own behalf, to stand up for justice and for mercy. We can do that. We are emboldened as Christians because we need not fear. That is the greatest truth of the resurrection. It is not proven because we say it’s true. It is proven, as Gregory the Great said centuries ago, “by the love that we express in our deeds.”
My sisters and brothers, this Easter, as much as joy fills my heart in this day, I’m reminded of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine who are at a time of great peril. Though they are celebrating Easter and the resurrection of Christ, they are worried about living their very next day. And I pray that we as Christians, remember them faithfully in our prayers, and that we continue to work for peace and pray for peace among nations — peace for the displaced, peace for those who are afraid.
Yes, it’s because we Christians are blessed, blessed by the truth of the resurrection, that we can stand up and take risks, risks to help our brothers and sisters across the globe, risks to help our sisters and brothers right here, next door.
It is a joy to celebrate this with you, my brothers and sisters. May the peace of Christ be with you always.
The below link is not a translation of the video, but rather a letter from Bishop Brown, with a similar message.
Hello, beloved of God in Delaware:
Lent is just around the corner. It’s one of the holiest seasons of the year — a time, as we all know of prayer, of self-denial, and of study. These are the three historic, traditional pillars of Lent, of this holy time.
I heard a preacher say, not too long ago, when he and I were talking about the season of Lent coming up, that to him Lent seemed to be the most underutilized tool in our Episcopal tool chest, in a Christian’s tool chest. Lent is that season where we look to see where God is headed, and to make sure that we are aligned with our Lord, and we strip away the noise and the distractions of life that may pull us off and send us in another direction. Lent helps us get in alignment with our God.
So the three pillars of Lent help us do that — to pray, to enter an intentional time of self-denial, fasting for example, and of course study. Again, this year I’m offering a book study in Lent. I find it is a good practice not only for my own discipline at this time of year, but also to share with other people of faith.
In the past couple of years, we’ve studied the faith itself, Christianity overall. Last year, we looked at simple Christian practices that bring us closer to God. This year, I’m looking to go really deep and I’m offering to study Howard Thurman’s seminal work Jesus, and the Disinherited.
I was on a pilgrimage last month to Alabama. I visited Montgomery and Selma and walked the walk with the marchers who crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge, left Selma and began their multi-day walk, their march to Montgomery. And I, with a number of other bishops and my wife, Caroline, was moved to see how the civil rights movement in this country was grounded in a place so hostile to the very people who were marching.
And you have to ask yourself, how is it that these good people could withstand the battering and the bruising that they received at the hands of authorities? How could they receive this non-violently? It’s a real testament to our Christian faith that leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and others insisted that to resist, the civil rights movement had to be non-violent. How did they reach that understanding?
One of the works that grounded them was Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited, the very book that we’ll be studying. Howard Thurman makes the phenomenal point, that’s really rather impressive, that a Christian faith, for a very long time had been used to justify hurting and oppressing people of color, was the actual faith that could sustain them. How? How is it that Jesus, who is preached by one group of people to oppress, could be the same Jesus that raises up? This book was incredibly important to Dr. King, incredibly important in the history of the United States in the 20th century, and it’s important to us. So I invite you to join me.
In your spiritual journey of this Lent whether you join my book group, or read something on your own, or study scripture, or whatever you do, take advantage of this holy season and help, once again, align your soul with the working of God.
May the peace of Christ be with you always.
Beloved of God in Delaware, blessings to you this Advent season.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells the crowd around him, “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down” (Luke 21:24). This is a typical teaching in the season of Advent, where we are reminded to be alert, to be awake, to be prepared.
Even in the moment when Jesus was present with the people around him, he still reminded them to be alert and ready for what comes next. Advent is a time of tension, as we are taught each and every year — a time when we wait, and yet we must also be ready.
I am reminded this season of the year and a half that we have spent with COVID. In so many ways, it feels as if our life has been put completely on hold, waiting to return to some kind of normalcy. However, the reality is life has not been on hold. Millions of people have died across the world from COVID, and the lives of their families have been inexorably changed. We remember this tragedy as we mourn our loss of friends and family.
At the same time, we give thanks for our first responders, our medical personnel, and those who have been faithfully marching against this disease because they have put themselves in harm’s way to help keep us safe. We celebrate and support those who have worked so hard.
We in the church have certainly not been on hold. Our parishes have worked faithfully to adapt and respond in some of the most difficult and challenging times any of us remember.
So let’s be clear. Although this has been a time when we feel that life is on hold, we have not been idle. Waiting in the name of Jesus Christ does not mean idleness. It is an active verb, to wait. I hold the tension of this COVID moment — celebrating the good things we’ve done while we mourn our losses — as an example of the tension of Advent, of what it means to wait and yet to be ready as Christ implores us to do.
Remember in this time as we look forward to the promises and celebrations of the coming King during Christmas, Advent is ultimately a season of hope. The light is coming, and in this dark time, the light and the truth are already with us.
Blessings to you my sisters and brothers this Advent season. Hope is coming. Hope is here. May the peace of Christ be with you always.
Hello, beloved of God in Delaware.
In just a few weeks, we will gather again for our annual convention. Episcopalians in Delaware have been gathering together to meet and discuss the ministry and mission of the church since 1791. That first convention happened in Dover, and there were three priests and 11 lay people present. Our entire diocese only had 14 churches. We now have 34.
Since that time, Episcopalians have met faithfully to consider what is it that the church is about? What are our priorities for the coming year? What is it that Christ is calling us to do?
Convention this year, in 2021, will be, as last year, completely online. That is, of course, out of an abundance of caution. We are in a time of pandemic and, even as things are getting a little bit better out there, we still want to do everything we can to be as safe as possible. It just doesn’t make sense to gather a hundred plus people into the same room for many hours on end, not if we can do this safely online. We can do it safely online, and we can do it well.
The good thing about having a fully online convention is that anyone can participate. That is, anyone can watch and see what is happening in real time. So, I want to invite you, even if you’re not a priest or deacon of this diocese, even if you’re not an official delegate of your parish, I invite you to drop in. Come for the whole thing. It’s on Saturday, November the 20th. Come for part of it. However much you’d like to see and hear — join us!
You’ll find more information about our annual convention at our website, delaware.church. It has all the information you need. Look and see and come and join us! Just like the first Episcopalians did back in 1791, we do now. We gather, we pray, and we listen for the spirit to help us make the next step forward.
May Christ be with you, always.
Hello, beloved of God in Delaware
In just a few months, on November 20, our annual convention will be here. The theme this year is from Paul’s letter to the Romans — in chapter eight, the two verses that are beloved to so many Christians across the world, Paul writes, ‘nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. It’s good to be reminded that after a year and a half of pandemic and a time of turmoil and upheaval that we, as a church, are still united in Christ. Nothing will separate us from God — the love of God and the love of God in Christ Jesus. This year’s convention is being planned right now to be a hybrid convention though, as the state of the pandemic is still in flux. We know enough to realize that we can’t all get together in the same place. So, we are planning now for a hybrid convention, meaning that just a few folks will meet in person at St. Andrew’s school in Middletown, and those who will be there in person are basically the people who are certified to vote — clergy and delegates, as well as convention staff and presenters. Everyone else will be able to watch the convention online. That’s the hybrid nature of it. So put Saturday, November 20th, Saturday on your calendars.
Now, remember, too, that each delegation needs to be certified. This is in accordance with our diocesan canons. We want to make sure every parish has its delegates ready and able to vote. So don’t miss the important deadlines around certification. All information can be found on our diocesan website, at the convention webpage, www.delaware.church/convention-237/.
I also want to challenge every parish to take advantage of the ability to send a young adult delegate to convention. Look at the deadline, talk to your vestry and to your rector or priest in charge and find out who your young adult delegate is and make sure that you use every possible opportunity to have your voices heard at our annual convention.
The convention is a time of mission and a time of renewal of the church and I’m looking forward to it again this year. Please continue to pray for me and for the convention planning team as we come together and discern God’s will in this wonderful corner of the church and of the kingdom of God.
May the peace of Christ be with you always.
Hello, beloved of God in Delaware:
As summer rolls around and the hot weather begins, we can rejoice that we are able to regather again as a parish. I have been traveling across the state for many Sundays now, worshiping with you and celebrating the Holy Eucharist, and there is just a joy in being together again — something exciting indeed.
I want to tell you about something else that’s really exciting right now — materials that are available for you and your parish to use right away, materials that are going to help you and your parish be a little bit stronger in the work that you do. I’ve often said that parishes are ministry engines, and by that I mean that it’s the parish where the good work of Jesus Christ really happens, where people come to know the love of the living God through worship, through outreach, through ministry, through pastoral care, and through one another. A parish is an engine of ministry and it takes all of the inputs just like an engine takes fuel. Our parishes take inputs, take the hard work that you and I put into it. It takes prayer — prayer so often and dedicated — and frankly, it also takes money to run a parish. And these inputs all come together and they end up being the ministry that we show the world — the love of Jesus Christ is manifest, made alive.
And one of the secrets of vital parishes, of growing parishes, is that they are not afraid to talk about money in particular. You know, often money is thought of as a dirty word. We don’t talk about money so much, but that’s a mistake because you see by naming it you claim it, and you move on to other important work of ministry. And that’s a secret to parishes that are growing and that are thriving. I urge you in your parish that if you’re not already comfortable talking about your parish finances openly, to do so, to start now, start as early as this fall’s annual pledge campaign, and name it just that — the annual pledge campaign. It’s annual because it comes up every year. There’s a pledge that’s expected because we commit ourselves to our parish just as our parish commits itself to us.
If we don’t talk openly about money, then it becomes something that we push into the dark corners, and we all know that that’s not the way to being healthy, and to growth. So here’s the exciting news — our stewardship resource team has crafted materials that you and your parish can use right now, free of charge, to adapt and make a perfect fit for your parish right away to talk about your finances. I want to thank Helen Spence, the chairwoman of the resource team, and all of those on her team, for crafting these resources and making them so freely available. We have a theme for your pledge campaign. There is a draft timeline that you can use. There are draft pledge cards, and sample letters, and all sorts of other wonderful materials that you can take and modify and use as you see fit. Change them, adapt them but, most importantly, use them.
In the end, remember that your parish is an engine for ministry. It is where the magic happens, where people come to know the love and hope and joy of Jesus Christ. Spread that good news. Claim the blessing we are given. Remember my friends work hard, pray always, love like you mean it, and may the peace of Christ be with you always.
Beloved of God,
Camp Arrowhead is holy, holy ground. People find goodness in this place, whether it’s out among the pine trees, on the beach of the Bay, by campfires at night, in the chapel, or sharing a meal. Generations of campers and their families, and the staff lucky enough to serve at this place, have said it time and time again, that they have been introduced to the loving, life-giving way of Jesus Christ in this place. Camp Arrowhead transforms lives.
Camp has long been a treasured part of the work of the Episcopal Church in Delaware. We’ve been proud of this place for generations. We can look back to the founders who had the vision to establish this beautiful place, the visionaries who acquired it and built it from the ground up, and the talented leaders and staff who have dedicated themselves for decades, to make this place the wonderful place that it is. What a great history Arrowhead has had.
But now at this moment, as we enter the Ring the Bell Campaign — a campaign for the future of Arrowhead — we can look with goodness and joy, not only at the camp’s wonderful past but look to a future that expands this wonderful and holy place. We have a chance, you and I right now, to grow this camp, to expand the reach of the camp, not just during warm weather months but to make it into an all-year-long facility. We have the opportunity to expand the way camp interacts and reaches out to community organizations, and other organizations throughout the state that serve and focus on youth. And, we have the opportunity now to expand scholarships for campers so that more and more campers will be able to participate in this wonderful place in the future. Ring the Bell! This is our opportunity — our time now to join.
Today my wife, Caroline, and I are making our pledge. We’re making our commitment to the future of Camp Arrowhead. So please make your pledge, as little or as much as you can, please join us in this good work. Secondly, pray. Pray for the mission of this camp. Pray for its leaders, and pray for the campers who come and are transformed here. And finally, tell the world about Arrowhead. Let people know what good things are happening in this very special and holy place.
God bless you, and may the peace of Christ be with you always.
Beloved of God in Delaware:
Last week on the Feast of the Epiphany, one of the holiest, most sacred days of the Christian year, a group of American citizens stormed the US Capitol intent on overturning the recent election results. These people stormed in with violence and mayhem on their minds, bent on abducting our elected officials, bent on stopping them from doing their constitutional duty, bent on changing history to reflect their will. The fact is that their revolt, their riot, failed. And while we, as a country right now, are sitting in a time of increased fear and heightened anxiety because we don’t know exactly what to expect next, make no mistake — they failed. They failed because we, as American citizens, recognize and reject this kind of violence. We recognize and we reject this attempt to overthrow our elections. And we recognize as Christians that they failed because they failed in the very call of God to love. It is sadly ironic that a great many of those who stormed the Capitol prayed first to God, before they took this violent action.
Let us be clear. Work like this, actions like this, are not sanctioned by the living God, the God of love, by the Prince of Peace, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Here in the Episcopal Church in Delaware, I want to make clear that we repudiate this kind of action, not only because it stands against our democratic values as American citizens, but because it stands against our values as children of God, to love one another and to stand for what is true and good and right. In a time like now, when there is heightened anxiety and heightened concern, when we feel a kind of tempest blowing around us and the sea seems to be roiling, we can ask what is it that we are supposed to do? What do we do in a time like this? I think it’s absolutely essential in our lives, when we feel the most at loss, to remember the basics— remember who we are and remember whose we are.
We are baptized in the life and death of Jesus Christ, and we belong to him, and we were sealed as Christ’s own forever. So as you contemplate what it is that you are to do as a faithful citizen of this democracy and a faithful citizen of the Kingdom of God, remember that Christ is your Lord and to Him, to the Prince of Peace, to a God of love, you owe your deepest allegiance.
So a couple of things for us to remember, to guide us, to set our compasses north towards the living God: remember that Jesus taught us to love our neighbor. By that I hope to remind us in this very difficult moment to not look and see the very worst in what other people are doing and assume that that is the very worst in all of us. Remember that those people who stormed the Capitol, as wrong as what they did was, they do not represent the great majority, the vast majority of the American people. And if you disagree with them politically, be careful not to paint all of your political adversaries with the same brush as those who stormed the Capitol. We must be careful. Let us not take the worst in what we see and assume that that small minority applies to a great majority. That is part of loving our neighbors, seeing the good, looking for the good in one another. May we stop looking for the worst of motives in each other and start looking for the best.
Secondly, I call on us all to pray and to pray like we mean it, pray like it matters. Listen for God, and then act. Prayer is never a substitute for acting, but prayer is a prerequisite for doing, for deciding, and for knowing what to do next, because action is demanded.
As an American citizen, it is important that we stand up for fairness, for truth, and for justice — justice for all Americans. It is important as Christians that we stand up and speak out for love and for justice with mercy and compassion, and for the good of and dignity of all human beings. God is going to call on you and place something on your heart to do, and that is good and right. And as you are considering how to act, my sisters and brothers, remember to pray and listen, listen for the voice of God. God will point you where to act and will show you the way.
Remember this, that when we speak about the peace of Christ, we never are saying that we will live in a world where there is no tempest, where there is no storm. Rather the peace of Christ means that in the midst of a storm, in the midst of a tempest, we will not forget that God is with us. Remember who you are and whose you are. Look good upon your neighbor. Don’t assume the worst. Be ready to act, but first pray and look for the hand of God in what you are called to do. And remember that if you go forward, you go forward in love, then you do indeed go forward with God.
May the peace of Christ, my sisters and brothers, be with us always
Merry Christmas beloved of God in Delaware.
I pray that you and your family are well this holiday season, but the reality is that for many of us in a time of global pandemic, we are not doing well. All of us know someone who has had coronavirus or who is suffering from it now. Many of us know someone that we love who has died. 2020 has been a difficult year by any measure. I was recently looking at a collection of pictures from 2020 — simply still images that capture just how remarkable these 12 months have been. I remember seeing a picture of St. Peter’s Square, there at the heart of Rome, which is normally teaming with thousands and thousands of people every day of the year completely empty, and the streets empty as everyone was sent home for the pandemic. We’ve all seen images of our streets here in the United States, as they filled with protestors, with those of us calling for justice and calling for transformation in our nation — calling for change; images of wildfires that burned across California turning the skies orange; images of multiple hurricanes, one after the other, hitting our Southern States.
So many things have happened in 2020, and it is hard to really fathom the magnitude of this year. And as you approach Christmas, I would completely understand if you look to this season to escape, to get away from it all, and to say, please, Lord God, give me peace in this time, and I am glad that you pray for peace. Remember this, my sisters and brothers, especially at Christmas, that when we call upon the peace of God, that is a peace that reminds us that the world in its chaos and in its troubles and in its challenges is a world that God has entered into with us. As the Christ child, God came into this world and suffered each and every one of the deprivations and challenges that we face. God knows what it’s like to be alive in 2020 and God is with us. The peace of God remains with us and gives us trust, hope, and strength, even in the midst of the toughest storms that we face. The first chapter of the gospel of John tells us the word was made flesh — that is Jesus, the Christ. The Word was made flesh and came among us, dwelt here with us to bring light, hope, and peace to this world. I pray beloved of God, that you will find peace this holiday season — peace this Christmas — remembering that Jesus Christ is here and present with us no matter how challenging and difficult it gets. Know that you are loved, and may the peace of Christ be with you always.
Hello, my sisters and brothers in Christ.
Last week, I introduced this series called vote faithfully, where I’ve identified some of the ways that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, can live into this crazy complicated election season, and to set aside so much of the noise, so much of the pressure, so much of the vitriol around us, and instead focus on the love of God and how we might manifest it in our vote and in our local community and in our support for one another. Today, I want to talk a little bit about the theology behind the church’s role in this political time. Often it is said that the church should not be political. And actually, that’s not the case. That’s not actually true. I think what the person means is slightly different. You see, Jesus was a very political person in the sense that he talked about politics all the time. Politics at its root is what describes how people who live in community interact with each other. How a community sets its priorities, how a community values one another. That’s what politics is about. And no, Jesus never said that he voted for a particular person. There wasn’t a democracy back then after all. But Jesus certainly did say, this is how we treat one another. We are to love each other. We are to take care of those who are sick. Jesus went out of his way to visit lepers and to heal them. Jesus fed people, fed thousands of people at a time, feeding the hungry he said. He taught us it was our job as Christians to take care of the naked, clothe the naked, and to visit the prisoner. Jesus always was dining with people he was not supposed to, and that got him in trouble. He was very political, but one thing Jesus was not and one thing we as a church must not be and that is partisan, because the gospel is a powerful, transforming message that has changed the world and continues to change the world. And when we, as preachers, we, as followers of Christ, try to hitch the gospel and make it subservient to a political party or to a political person, we are actually weakening the very power of God. So no preacher should go and preach the party line for any political party. That’s silly. And in fact, it’s detrimental to the gospel itself, but a preacher should be perfectly political in the sense of preaching about what it means to live together and to care for each other. And don’t just take my word for this. There was a fantastic sermon published just last month by our presiding Bishop, Michael B. Curry, where he makes this exact point, very powerfully. He speaks to the call to stand up and to have a moral voice. Our calling is to speak moral truth. Yes, this is a crazy complicated, mixed up time. And we can’t be driven to distraction by all the news, all the debates, all the tweets, all of the various items coming at us every second of the day. Instead, call us to breathe deeply and to pray because prayer centers us on that higher calling, of God. I remind you about a wonderful opportunity to pray with our sisters and brothers from other Christian denominations on Sunday night, November 1, the Sunday, before election day. I, and bishops and leaders of other Christian denominations will gather in a service of prayer, a symbol of our unity across our differences, not praying for any political party or any political outcome, but praying for our nation, praying for hope, praying for peace. This is a complicated time, my brothers and sisters, but we have a beacon in Jesus Christ to guide us through.
Stay calm, stay true, and may the peace of Christ be with you always.
Hello, beloved of God in Delaware.
The election is now just two weeks away and we continue to look to our God and to our faith for sources of comfort and of hope in this time — a time that feels awfully chaotic. I’ve been spending my Sundays speaking via Zoom with parishes across the state, across the diocese. And one question that keeps coming up as we discuss these times, people want to know how is it that I can have conversations with people that disagree with me? This was a question asked just last week. How do I talk to a neighbor, neighbors who used to be very good friends but now we simply don’t talk to each other anymore? And you know, it’s an important question, not just in time of election, but always. Our nation has gotten to a point where our politics have become so divisive it’s as if we no longer can simply live and disagree with someone, but we have been taught to see them as actual enemies in some way — to view people on the other side of the aisle as evil, or as people of hate, or as people who want to do harm. And that becomes dangerous to our common life. How do we have conversations at this time? There is a group that I’ve learned about recently that has been doing this kind of work, helping people bridge divides, and have real conversations about real political issues. This group is called Braver Angels. It is a completely, resolutely bipartisan group that formed after the 2016 election when so many folks, Democrats and Republicans, felt that they were having a hard time simply speaking and talking and listening to each other. And Braver Angels works to provide spaces where people can actually talk. And they emphasize the fact that yes, conversations demand civility and good conversations mean that we’re empathetic, that we’re listening to each other, and that good conversations expect goodwill between people. But what Braver Angels does even further is remind us that an important conversation also requires courage. And so often there are things in this world we’re taught that we’re never supposed to talk about. We’re taught growing up that you don’t talk about politics. You don’t talk about money. You don’t talk about race. And these are the very kinds of things that we have got to learn to talk about. I encourage you to take a look at Braver Angels and look at their resources. They have a terrific introductory video. The work that they’re doing is not just for this election, but it is building important blocks through this election and beyond. I offer this as not just a resource but as an important measure of hope. When times feel really dark and challenging, when we know that after this election there will be some folks who are really happy and other folks who are really sad — regardless of the outcome the nation will be divided afterward — be reminded that there are people of goodwill, good and faithful people on both sides of the aisle. There are people who have been working and are continuing to work to empower us to talk to each other. My point is this. The current situation is not the final situation, is not the end game. It does not have to be this way and we need not settle for it. We, as brothers and sisters in Christ, are called to live in love and that does take courage. We can be braver angels. We can have those difficult conversations. It’s good for our nation, good for our very souls.
Stay true and may the peace of Christ be with you always.
Hello, beloved of God in Delaware,
Here we are, less than a week until election day and the noise and energy is all ratcheting up, probably as loud as it has been. And it’s at times like this when we feel that we are just surrounded by chaos in our country; times that we must ground ourselves in prayer. Because when we pray, we focus on God — on God who is true, God who is good, God who is steadfast. And boy, isn’t that what we need right now — to remember what is good and true and what lasts. So we pray.
I remind you that this Sunday night there is a prayer service offered by Christians from across many different churches. I, joining with bishops and other Christian leaders from the Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania area, will come together and pray for our country. We’ll pray for peace. We’ll pray for the election. We’ll pray for each other. It’s an important symbol of unity of people who worship in different places on Sunday, but who are united in a common love for this country — in a common love, even more importantly, of God and of Jesus Christ and for each other. Join us in prayer my brothers and sisters.
I also want to draw your attention to wonderful, rich prayers of our tradition. In our own Book of Common Prayer are two prayers that you may find very helpful right now. Pray these daily as you move towards election day and through. The first is a prayer for an election and the second is called a prayer for social justice, which simply calls for us to be united. So together, my brothers and sisters, let us pray:
Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Grant, oh God, that your holy and life-giving spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers, which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Keep praying my sisters and brothers. Center your lives on God, and may the peace of Christ stay with you always.
Hello, beloved of Christ in Delaware.
Just like you, I see that the news today is filled with news of convention. It’s everywhere. People are excited about convention. Well, I am too. You know, the annual convention of the Episcopal church in Delaware’s coming up in November. Okay. The news is really talking about the Republican national convention and the Democratic national convention, but that doesn’t stop us from talking about the Delaware Episcopal convention. It’s coming up in November. So I want to talk just for a second about that right now. It seems like a long way away, but there are things we really need to be doing right now to get ready for that event. Conventions often are described as business sessions, but our business of the church, whether we’re talking about budgets or elections or resolutions, it all points us to the mission that we’re called to do. What is the mission of the church?
And we are in a huge missional moment right now. There are huge questions around racial justice, around truth and reconciliation. What is the Episcopal Church in Delaware doing to respond? Huge questions around the pandemic, this new normal in which we’re living and the new technology that we’ve learned from it. What is the Episcopal Church in Delaware doing to respond? Questions around the mission work of invite and welcome and connect — good work that we have already begun in Delaware. How is that continuing in this time? That’s exactly the kinds of things we’ll be discussing. The convention dates are set for November the 20th, 21st, and 22nd. That’s a Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. Now you probably remember that we originally talked about a one day convention. Well, in essence, it’s a one day convention. We’re going to spread it over three days so we all don’t get tired of staring at our computer screens, because in fact this will be entirely online. It has to be, it has to be in this time of pandemic. The great thing though, about this being online is that anyone, anyone can join to watch. Now, a couple of things that we needed focus on right now is that if you’re someone who is eligible to vote at convention, that is you’re one of the deputies from your parish, or you’re a clergy member who is eligible to vote at convention, that means you need to certify. And our lay deputies have always had to certify in the past, but this year we also need clergy. You need to certify by the deadline of September, the 21st. And that is so we can get you your voting credentials. We’re going to be voting online and you need access and training to the voting system.
It’s a very slick, very simple system, but if we don’t know that you’re going to be there and vote, then we can’t get you access to it. So voters make sure you certify by September the 21st. Also by that same date, that’s the deadline for resolutions. That is the business that you want to come before convention. If you have some items, please, the whole convention planning team and I really implore you to have those resolutions in on time. Let’s avoid any late resolutions at the convention that will draw us to spending more time in front of our screens talking about just the kind of things that it’s easy to process when you’re all in the same room, but it can be tough when you are working digitally. So again, September 21st, get your resolutions in on time. Nominations are open right now for folks who are going to be elected to positions.
Don’t miss this opportunity to nominate yourself or someone else to serve this church at the diocesan level. Finally, we’re going to wrap up that Sunday morning with an all-diocese service, all diocesan services, all the parishes of the church together for one service to celebrate — celebrate our unity, celebrate our common mission, celebrate this Sunday, it’s Christ the King Sunday, it will be the Sunday before Thanksgiving. So much for us to be thankful for even in this age. I look forward to being with you at convention — our convention in November. May the peace of Christ, my sisters and brothers, be with you always.
It’s a lie and it’s got to end.
Hello, my sisters and brothers in Delaware. Our nation, our state, we are in a time of profound unrest — so profound, so deep that the word unrest doesn’t begin to capture the emotion that we feel, the emotion being expressed. Unrest doesn’t capture the anger, the anger at seeing the life of a black man choked out of him on the streets of Minneapolis. The word unrest doesn’t begin to capture the sense of outrage, the sense of injustice, the sense of inhumanity, and the concern that this moment will pass and be forgotten. Unrest doesn’t capture the energy that says this moment will not pass, it will not be forgotten.
Just this past Pentecost Sunday, I, like so many preachers took to the pulpit to decry the sin of racism, to not simply, not only to speak out about the horrors of what happened in Minneapolis and the murder of George Floyd, but to speak about how it is that our entire system, the structure of our culture and of our country, can be based upon this fiction of racism. Racism itself, the construct of race, is a lie.
It’s simply not true. And we’ve all been taught that it’s true — the idea of race, that there are meaningful biological differences, meaningful differences between people because of the color of their skin. It’s not supported by any kind of science. It’s not supported by any kind of reality whatsoever. It’s only supported by a kind of myth that we have all been taught and it’s not true, but yet it underlies so much of the way that people behave, as if intrinsically there is something different, or better, or more dangerous, about someone of a different skin color. It’s a lie, and it’s got to end.
I’m very serious about the work that this church can do around racial reconciliation. And I’ve convened a group of people — just yesterday I asked a group of people who’ve been doing this work for a long time here in Delaware, to meet with me and not simply talk about it, but to help plan out what next steps I can do as a bishop, and we can do as a church, to make a meaningful difference in this conversation. We are in a moment of unrest, but that does not mean that we rest, that we stick our heads in the sand and wait for things to pass over. It is a call to action. We are followers of Jesus Christ after all, we are people of action, of love, of hope, and faith. Not only are we living in a time of moral and social upheaval, we’re still living in a time of pandemic.
The novel coronavirus hasn’t magically gone away. COVID-19 is still here in Delaware. We’re blessed and lucky that our health trends, our public health figures, really do seem to be improving. The stay at home measures that we have been under, the new ways of living together with social distancing and masks, and all the other precautions, they seem to be working. And because they’re working, we as a church and so many other businesses and organizations are being allowed, under very limited rules but still being allowed, to consider regathering. I’m sure you’ve seen the news and heard that the church may be able to regather. I’m very thankful for the work of the New Normal Task Force, a group that I called together barely two weeks ago. And since that time, they have compiled, and reviewed, and rereviewed this document that’s being now released called All Things in Love.
It’s a guide to regathering. It’s a guide that each and every parish leader can use to help step through the theological reasons for what it is that we do, to help root the decisions for our regathering in our call to love Christ and love one another, and can help with a checklist of things that just need to be done to open safely in a time of pandemic. As you can imagine, it’s not easy. And as you might imagine, it really shouldn’t be easy when you have a pandemic alive, alive around us. I want to thank that task force for the work that they’ve done — such quality work in such a short period of time. On behalf of a thankful, grateful diocese I express my sincere appreciation.
I want to point out that this book, these guidelines, are purposefully labeled version one, and that’s simply to note that very likely it will be updated. This is a fluid situation. And, as you might hope, as we learn new things or guidelines change, we want to be able to update it as well. But know that for any parish that is considering this, I want to really emphasize that there is no rush. I am not pushing parishes. I’m not hinting. I’m not encouraging any clergy or any parish to rush out to reopen until the moment when it feels like it could be done safely, and it can be done in a way where the worship is wonderful. So please know that while the guidelines are being published now, it is not an incentive or a wink that you should be regathering anytime immediately.
Yes. It’s true that we are living in pandemic. Yes, it’s true we’re living in great social upheaval and unrest, and yes, it is true that we are people of the living God. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. I thank God for it. We’ve long known, long understood that our help is not simply in ourselves. It is not our ability or our task to save ourselves, it is to rely on the love of God which will save us and save the world. Don’t give up hope. Know that no matter how dark the storm, no matter how difficult this seems, our hope is in Christ and in the love of God that Christ showed with great sacrifice, with great humility, with open arms on the cross — a love that’s meant to encompass every single person. So don’t give up hope my brothers and sisters, lean on love.
That’s what Trinity Sunday is all about. It’s coming up soon, and it’s all about how love unites God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is love that unifies the Godhead and it is love that unifies, connects us to God. Celebrate love this Trinity Sunday. Celebrate, and don’t give up hope. Be ready for the work ahead because it’ll take a long time, but we’re up for this. We were baptized for times like this,
Go in peace, my brothers and sisters, and may the peace of Christ be with you always.
Hello, my sisters and brothers in Christ.
Many years ago when I was a new parish priest, I had a conversation with a pastor in a neighboring town, and he was lamenting the fact that Lent was coming around the corner and he said, “I really don’t like Lent, because in Lent the music is always so dreadful and the sermons are so boring and so bossy. I remember thinking to myself that if I went to this guy’s church where the music was dreadful and the sermons were boring or bossy, I probably would dread it too, no matter what season of the year.
I look at Lent — this wonderful 40 days before Easter every year — not as a time of dread or boring, but as a time that I need. The church describes Lent as a period where we bring ourselves closer to the living God and we do it through some very old school practices. We do it through fasting — that is self-denial. We do it through self-examination — that is getting into our own souls. And, we do it through increased prayer. I find that I need each and every Lent to do these things so that I can help strip away the things that get between me and God. Life is so complicated and crazy that it’s hard sometimes to remember that God is the source of our life and the source of all that we do. Lent reminds us to pause and to put God first. It’s often said that Lent is a time to prepare for Easter. I really don’t think of it as just a time to prepare for that glorious day, but also as a time to build up our strength for living. I’m reminded that through Lenten practices, ultimately I depend upon God, and when my life depends upon God, I find that I am living in freedom — freedom from fear, freedom from noise, freedom from the buildup of life — and the freer I am from fear, the freer I am to love.
So I need Lent. Lent is nothing about being dreadful and bossy or boring. It’s all about orienting ourselves closer to God. So whatever you choose to do this Lent, however you choose to engage in self-reflection, in self-denial, and in prayer, I encourage you to do things that will challenge you and refresh you.
But one thing that I would like to ask all of us to do, all of us who seek to follow Jesus Christ, is to plan to attend the Holy Week services at a local parish. Plan right now. Today is Ash Wednesday and you have 40-plus days to get ready for Holy Week. Mark your calendars. Often people are traveling at this time of year for spring break. Find an Episcopal church wherever you are and plan to be at Holy Week. This is our revival time — a time to get as close as possible to the story of Jesus Christ and into the heart of the living God.
I need Lent, my brothers and sisters, to help prepare me for Easter and, even more, to help strengthen me for life. I hope that you have a blessed and Holy Lent and that you find yourself drawn closer into the heart of God.