Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Day of Pentecost

Take a long drink of something good and think about the act of drinking.
How we humans drink is kind of funny. 
Head turned up, neck vulnerable to allow passage, usually involving at least one hand.
I don't know if you have ever watched someone else drink, or tried to watch yourself drink something.
Its one of the few things we have a hard time doing while doing other things.
Drinking does not lend itself to multitasking well. 
I mean, I know I can drink water while riding my bicycle or running,
but I can't write while drinking, at least not well. I can't text or wash dishes well.
Taking a sip of water requires a pause in everything else. 
It doesn't last long, but there is pretty much always a pause.

Even in the metaphorical ways of drinking
drinking in music or art, or seeing someone else,
the act of drinking in is a pause to let something enter us.
Jesus knows what it is to drink
and he uses this metaphor in a lot of ways.
In the Gospel passage from John today, 
Jesus invites all those who are thirsty to come to him and drink.
At another time in John, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that he has living water
and that all who drink of it will have eternal life.

We definitely need water, we can only go about four days without water.
When it comes to understanding this metaphor though, we have to understanding the way 
Jesus is talking about water.
In nature living water is moving water: springs, rivers, streams, oceans, lakes.
Living moving water is clean water. 
Stagnant water is not usually healthy.
Living water is always moving and changing.
In many ways, this metaphor truly fits with Jesus as living water.
We need to drink in Jesus
but when we do, we will change.
The living water will move in us and change us.
We certainly see this in the disciples. 

In the passage from Acts today, 
we see a prime example of how drinking in Jesus and having the living water enter and move us
will change us.
In the Gospel passage for today, Jesus quotes, "Out of a believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water." 
It is a two way movement, those who believe in Jesus drink him in,
and then living water flows out of them. 
This is what happened in the passage from Acts, 
the disciples had been given living water and they were changed.
You could almost say, the disciples were drunk, 
just drunk on Jesus and not on alcohol. 
They had been given living water, they had been given the Holy Spirit,
and they overflowed with the Spirit and they shared it in every language they possibly could!

Jesus offers us the same living water. 
I think we resist because we know, 
the minute we touch our lips to God's living water,
we will be changed. 
We are all thirsty,
thirsty for familiarity perhaps at the moment, thirsty for love, belonging, 
thirsty for a different future.
And Jesus is offering us a real drink.
God's living water.
God's living water which will change us and fill us and give us eternal life.
God's living water will come flowing out of our hearts,
we will share God's love and grace in ways we may not even feel comfortable with.
We may overflow, as the disciples did so long ago,
knowing they couldn't keep the amazing love of God inside.

Pentecost is in many ways a great celebration.
The scriptures which describe what happened on that day are absolutely amazing,
you really should go read them again, drink them in,
there is hidden depth and meaning, symbolism around what God is doing in the world,
and we tend to only focus on one part of it.
We celebrate Pentecost as the coming of the Holy Spirit 
and the birthday of the universal church,
which is especially interesting because the birth of the church happened at home,
and immediately went out into the world.
The birth of the church did not involve committees, buildings, or high altar decorations.
Pentecost happened out among the people
the church was gathered, because it was the people who are the church.
It doesn't matter where we are, we are the church and the Holy Spirit will come to us where we are.
Even in the Gospel passage from John where Jesus is proclaiming the living water
which we are all desperately in need of a drink of,
Jesus was doing so out in the streets of Jerusalem, outside the Temple,
out among the people. 

Anglicans have a long tradition of being both-and people. 
We wait for the kingdom of God while we are living in it. 
We wait for the coming of the Spirit while we know the Spirit is with us. 
When it comes to paradox, we like to straddle both sides.
When it comes to the living water Jesus is offering to us,
we have already tasted its sweetness and we are ever poised on the brink of drinking.

Will you drink of Jesus' living water? Will you let the Holy Spirit enter your heart
and allow it to overflow with the amazing goodness of God?

As we celebrate today the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the coming of Pentecost,
let us lift up our heads in the vulnerable but opening act of drinking in
and take a long drink of God's living water.

Amen.





Seventh Sunday of Easter

"Oh good Lord! You are awesome!"
"Oh good Lord, I pray..."
"Oh good Lord." Full stop.

I don't know about you, but this has mostly been my prayer life lately.
Every sentence starts with "Oh good Lord," and every time the attitude is different.
Sometimes weary, sometimes baffled, sometimes frustrated, 
sometimes annoyed, sometimes joyful, sometimes grateful.
The words, and sometimes the lack of words, are jumbled and confused,
my desires, my needs, my hopes for our community, my concerns and worries for our town,
all add up to a very hilly experience of life and prayer.

Jesus on the other hand, seems to know exactly what he is saying 
in the prayer we overhear in the Gospel passage from John today.
Jesus is focused on relationship.
His relationship with God,
his followers relationships with God,
and the ending completeness of all things in God.

We hear from the Gospel passage much about Jesus' relationship with God.
Jesus was with God before the world began. 
Jesus was glorified by God before and will be again.
Jesus shares in eternal life with God.
Jesus has a deep intimacy with God and a belonging which goes beyond all boundaries.
Jesus was called by God to a mission on Earth and Jesus feels he is fulfilling his mission. 
Jesus longs to make sure he is fulfilling the purpose God gave him here.
This is one of the clearest passages we have in the Gospel texts into the relationship between Jesus and God,
into the inner life of the Trinity.
In the relationship of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit there is oneness, intimacy, glory, purpose, and belonging.
Jesus knows his place in relationship with God and he trusts in God's actions in his life.

On the other hand, our relationships with God are a little less clear.
As if anything could be less clear than the inner life of the Trinity.

However, our relationships with God are less clear because of us.
Jesus is clear about our relationships with God,
he knows we belong to God. 
We were chosen by God, and given to Jesus.
Jesus knows God has eternal life for us, and
Jesus asks that he might be glorified on our behalf, because he knows that his glorification will save us.
Jesus is so clear about his understanding of our relationship with God, 
we can see all that simply from eavesdropping on one of Jesus' prayers.
I am not sure that anyone could be so clear about my understanding of my relationship with God
from listening in on any of my prayers.
Mostly, certainly nowadays, because my prayers are not that clear to begin with.
Thankfully, God is very clear about relationship with us.
God loves us.
God cares about us.
God offers us mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, and eternal life.
All we have to do is believe.

In belief, we fulfill Jesus' ultimate prayer,
oneness with God.
Which, when you really think about it, is extravagant.
Us, puny little human beings, being united in oneness with the ultimate reality of all things, God.
God's amazing love and grace for us is astounding.
Completeness in relationship with God pulls together everything we have ever heard or known
from scripture, tradition, reason, experience,
about God. 
Truth, peace, grace, mercy, loyalty and love,
all wrapped up together in an oneness with all the community of saints and the fullness of God.

Today is a good day to talk about all the fundamental relationships in our lives.
Not only is today the Sunday after the Ascension,
when Jesus left the disciples, again,
today is also the Sunday before Memorial Day,
a day when we remember those who have gone before.
Both of these days represent a change in relationship,
but not an end.
This is really pertinent, as we all have been feeling the changes in our relationships
as we continue living in new ways through the pandemic. 
Whether we recognize it or not, all of our relationships have changed, but not ended. 
Even our relationships with God. 

So, how can we fulfill Jesus' hope for us now?
How can we build up relationships which have changed, but not ended?
How can we rest in our relationship with God and find completeness with God?

We know the disciples experienced a great deal of change, both with the death and resurrection, 
and Jesus' ascension into heaven, since they were separated from their friend and teacher, their beloved Lord, Jesus,
and yet, these experiences also inspired them to go strengthen relationships
to build new relationships
in new ways 
which shared the great story of relationship with God. 

We are in a hard place in our lives together.
The church has certainly changed.
Our relationships have changed.
It will be a long time before we can pass the peace or share communion again.
We need to feel that struggle and lament,
but also rest in the relationship we have with God.
Knowing that the church has changed, not ended.
That our relationships have changed, not ended.
That the fulfillment of all our hopes in God will still come to pass,
In a world that has changed but not ended.

We can rest in knowing that however our prayers start or end,
however we reach out to God, saying Oh Good Lord,
that our Good Lord is still there.
That God still claims us as beloved children.
That we are still bound together in the community of saints, 
with all the people we remember, and even those who have been forgotten here on Earth.
Someday, we will know the fullness and oneness,
the completeness of our relationship with God.

In that, we can lift up our Easter voices and sing,
Alleluia, oh, Good Lord, Alleluia!

Amen. 

Sixth Sunday of Easter

"What is truth?"
"Quid est veritas?"
Τί ἐστιν ἀλήθεια (Ti estin aletheia)
 As Pilate asked Jesus. 

Sadly, I think many are trying to figure out the truth right now.

Conflicting reports, differing views, facts that are hard to figure out, 
political posturing, hidden agendas,
it can almost seem like no one is telling the truth!

As Pilate asked Jesus so many years ago,
maybe in jest or rhetorically, perhaps in earnest, or simple curiosity getting the better of him,
we wonder "what is truth?"

While Jesus does not answer Pilate on that fateful day,
Jesus did speak to his disciples about truth 
and quite in depth too.

We heard last week, Jesus say in the gospel passage from John, 
"I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Enigmatic, but important.

And this week we hear Jesus say, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him."

Jesus sent us the Spirit of Truth.
But what does that mean?

I'll tell you upfront, 
this is definitely good news!
And I'll tell you something else,
the Spirit of Truth does not give you all the answers,
or really any extra knowledge at all.

When we think about truth,
we tend to think of facts that are certain.
They are the truth, the end of the matter, the final say.
Scientifically, even the question of truth is problematic,
we cannot prove anything absolutely certain. 
In fact, most of what we have proven shows that the only absolute is that there are no absolutes! 
Philosophically, the question of truth is also a quagmire. 
Any understanding of truth includes large portions of communally held beliefs which cannot be proven, and thus are unsustainable in inclusion in any definition. 

Yet, we have this lingering feeling, 
this soul knowledge we cannot seem to connect with,
a knowing, that there is some truth.
And we would all feel better for knowing what it is.

What Jesus says about the truth is that He is the truth.
God is truth.
When Jesus talks about sending the spirit of truth,
Jesus talks about sending the Holy Spirit, part of God who is truth
to be with us and guide us.
Jesus never says, when the Spirit of Truth comes, you'll know everything, you'll feel certain about everything, and you can hold it all over your neighbor.
No, he talks about the Spirit of Truth as a guide, an advocate, and a parent.
Jesus tells his disciples he won't leave them orphaned.
As if they were little kids without supervision.

As we dive into this question about truth, the only thing that seems certain about truth
is that it is in relationship.
Truth starts out with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
always in relationship.
Truth is given to us by the Spirit of truth, a parent, a guide, an advocate.
Truth has to do with love and entering into the relationship of Love that is God
and sharing that love with others.

Thus, our certainty in truth rests in our relationship with God.

I'm not at all surprised the disciples were confused by this teaching.
We want truth to be something concrete! Something we can know with our minds!
(Indeed, it would be helpful if God spoke the facts of everything right out of the sky right now.)
But that kind of truth is actually so small in comparison to what Jesus is offering.
A single concrete fact is like a speck of sand to the universe of reality of Truth Jesus is calling us into.
Resting in relationship with the Spirit of Truth which is the Holy Spirit
is so much deeper and richer and more eternal 
than any little certain fact we could know about life on this planet. 

So how can we know the truth?
By being in relationship with God.
By resting in our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

As I tell all the couples I work with during premarital counseling,
the number one aspect to a good relationship is communication, 
mostly listening.
We have to listen.
Listen to each other.
Listen in prayer.
Listen with our hearts. 
Listen deeply, 
listen closely, 
listen with your mind, soul, and spirit, 
listen until you cannot listen anymore 
and then listen some more. 

The Spirit of Truth is speaking to us. 
The Spirit of Truth is going to guide us into the future. 
When we listen to the voice of the Spirit of Truth, we can rest in certainty, 
not in knowing the outcome, but knowing the love and grace of God,
knowing that God is working good for us.

As a teen at church camp, we learned the song, "The Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns, a Christian band with a long list of hits. 
The refrain of the song says:
"But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth."

Listen.
Listen for the Spirit of Truth.

Amen. 





Fifth Sunday of Easter

When you go about your daily routine
do you do it for yourself or do you do it in Jesus' name?

I don't think most of us really actually think about it.
We simply do what we feel like we need to do and get on with it.
However, when we start our day with prayer, and make an intention to do things in Jesus' name
our understanding and perspective on everything we do that day, is different.
And pretty much always for the better.
We are able to see through Jesus' eyes and heart
we are able to respond with Jesus' compassion
all of which far surpasses our own abilities.

Its amazing that even Christians can forget
to claim Jesus' name in their lives.
We believe and do good works out of our belief
and then we simply go through our day
forgetting to acknowledge that Jesus is walking with us.

During this time with the Diocesan Partnership, there is an online book study happening
on Jim Wallis' book, Christ in Crisis.
Which very much seems like the kind of title we need to be studying right now,
but it doesn't have anything to do with the pandemic.
In fact, Jim Wallis wrote his book in response to an entirely different crisis
he saw going on in the world before the pandemic.
Christians forgetting the truth.
Christians forgetting Jesus.
Christians forgetting what Jesus taught, what Jesus stood for, what Jesus did, and forgetting the power of Jesus' name.
All in all, Christians, followers of Christ, forgetting Jesus who is Christ.
Which does seem like a bit of a crisis actually for Christianity.

Naturally, because of the polemic world we live in, many think his book is political.
And if you read it, you will find much in it that touches on facets of our political life.
The word politics comes from the Greek word polis which means city, 
politics is then the ordering of the city, of the social life of the people.
However, the book itself is not political,
its just that any conversation about how people are together socially, is academically political.
What the book truly is
is a call to remember the biggest and most basic precepts of what it means to follow Jesus,
and to live in a way that shows it.
This is the kind of conversation Jesus is having with his disciples in the passage from John's gospel.
Jesus is trying to prepare them for what is going to happen to him.
He is trying to prepare his disciples to continue on after he is gone,
to believe in him and continue doing the works he has taught them. 
To live into their belief and show it to the rest of the world.
And the disciples don't seem to understand. 

I think this is the true daily struggle of being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ:
Trying to figure out how to live into, and show, your belief in Jesus. 

As any of you who watched this week's Porch Pondering video know, I do love good questions to ponder. 
This week I thought of a lot of them:
Do we live our lives in Jesus' name? 
What would that mean for our lives? 
What does it look like to live in this way? 
Do we believe that what he says will happen will in fact happen? 
Do we believe that we will be surprised by the amazing things that God can do through us? 
What would that mean for our values?
What would it mean for us to live from Jesus' values?
Does our faith and our works align? 
Do people really know that we are Christians, centered on following Jesus, in all the ways he taught?

As we have time to reflect on our lives, as they are now or before the pandemic,
it would be good to do a compass check,
to see if we are truly pointed towards Jesus,
to see if we on Jesus' path or our own path headed in another direction, 
to see if we are claiming Jesus' name in our lives.

Jesus is calling us to walk a long and difficult road,
And many of us are already feeling the weariness of the long road we have been walking this year.
Unfortunately, we are all still in the middle of these roads, 
no real end in sight yet.
However, we are thankfully not alone. 
Even as we may be alone at home
or alone in a once-bustling office, 
we are still in community.
Our community as Christians in Jesus' name goes to the ends of the earth.
Every time you say a prayer, 
in the morning, in the middle of the day, at night or even in the middle of the night,
you are not praying alone.
The community of Christians, of the saints of God, is big enough, you are always praying with others.

Jesus is with us wherever on the road we are. 
Jesus is walking with us, even when we forget to remember him, or forget his name. 
Nothing we can do, 
not our broken compasses, not our forgetfulness, not our questions, not living our belief
can draw us away from the love of God and the compassion of Jesus.

So let us remember Jesus, 
let us remember his Name.
Let us study our compasses
ask our hearts some questions
and turn to the one who is with us always,
and say,
lead the way.

I swear, once you let Jesus lead, you won't have to ask for directions.

Amen. 



Pro/Con List of Hope

I have been reading and writing a lot lately. There is so much that needs to be said and so much which needs to be heard. We desperately need to listen to each other right now. Also I am in the midst of wedding planning and right now that has consisted of a few pro/con lists. As I was staring at some of the headlines this morning it caught my poetic eye that "Protect" and "Protest" are only one letter apart. We have had an eruption of protesting and protecting and I think some of us are losing sight of the fact that most of us are trying to do both. Protecting by protesting, on both sides. In a bit of poetic fancy, I took those two closely spelled seven letter words and made a Pro/Con List of Hope.

Pro List         Con List

Project Conceal
Profess Concern
Protect Conduct  
Protest Confute
Provoke Condone
Propose Confide 
Provide Consult 
Prosper Console
Proudly Confirm 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Ecclesiastes Bible Study: Week Five

Week 5

Word

Ecclesiastes 9:1 – 10:20 (NRSV)

All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate one does not know. Everything that confronts them 2is vanity, since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those who shun an oath. 3This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost. 6Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun.

Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. 8Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. 9Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. 12For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.

13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed important to me. 14There was a little city with few people in it. A great king came against it and besieged it, building great siege-works against it. 15Now there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16So I said, ‘Wisdom is better than might; yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded.’
17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
   than the shouting of a ruler among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
   but one bungler destroys much good.

10:1 Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odor;
   so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
   but the heart of a fool to the left.
3 Even when fools walk on the road, they lack sense,
   and show to everyone that they are fools.
4 If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post,
   for calmness will undo great offences.

There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as great an error as if it proceeded from the ruler: 6folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. 7I have seen slaves on horseback, and princes walking on foot like slaves.
8 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
   and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a snake.
9 Whoever quarries stones will be hurt by them;
   and whoever splits logs will be endangered by them.
10 If the iron is blunt, and one does not whet the edge,
   then more strength must be exerted;
   but wisdom helps one to succeed.
11 If the snake bites before it is charmed,
   there is no advantage in a charmer.
12 Words spoken by the wise bring them favor,
   but the lips of fools consume them.
13 The words of their mouths begin in foolishness,
   and their talk ends in wicked madness;
14 yet fools talk on and on.
   No one knows what is to happen,
   and who can tell anyone what the future holds?
15 The toil of fools wears them out,
   for they do not even know the way to town.
16 Alas for you, O land, when your king is a servant,
   and your princes feast in the morning!
17 Happy are you, O land, when your king is a nobleman,
   and your princes feast at the proper time—
   for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
   and through indolence the house leaks.
19 Feasts are made for laughter;
   wine gladdens life,
   and money meets every need.
20 Do not curse the king, even in your thoughts,
   or curse the rich, even in your bedroom;
for a bird of the air may carry your voice,
   or some winged creature tell the matter.

Information

  • ·       At the time of writing, the Jewish tradition did not include an idea about heaven. The only afterlife was a shadowy place called Sheol and nothing happened there. It wasn’t until around two centuries before Jesus that the Jewish religion started discussing the possibility of a heaven. This greatly impacts the Teacher’s view of life on earth.
  • ·       The speculation about King Solomon writing or in some way authoring this book partially comes from the plethora of examples involving the actions of kings. Whoever wrote the book seems to have watched kings and courtiers carefully.
  • ·       Dogs were scavengers, not household pets. Dogs were not wanted in houses. Lions were thought to be noble creatures.
  • ·       Chapter 10 is a miscellaneous collection of proverbs, though some of them seem rather strange to us.
  • ·       Wisdom literature was important in ancient times, the people wanted to have something to teach their children and grandchildren, it was also seen as a way to leave a legacy for generations. People don’t want their own mistakes to go to waste.
  • ·       The book of Ecclesiastes backs up the Romans 2:11 verse “God shows no partiality”, the author continually notes that disaster comes upon everyone and even when you are good and wise bad things can happen to you.

Silence

Wait for a minute

Discussion

  1. 1.     What do you believe about heaven?
  2. 2.     Where did you learn your ideas about heaven?
  3. 3.     What scriptures impact your understanding of heaven?
  4. 4.     What wisdom does the Teacher give about relating to rulers or governments?
  5. 5.     What do you think about the wisdom the Teacher offers?
  6. 6.     What is your favorite proverb from Chapter 10? Why?
  7. 7.     What wisdom do you find in these proverbs?
  8. 8.     Do you believe God shows partiality? Why or why not?
  9. 9.     How do you think the book of Ecclesiastes speaks to what is going on in the world today?
  10. 10.  Do you find anything in the book from the Teacher wise? Why or why not?

Orans (Prayer)

19. For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. (BCP 820)

Motivation (Art)

Bible Art – picture



Monday, June 1, 2020

Pastoral Letter: Call to Listen

Dear St. John's Community,

As many of you are, I am also saddened and angered by the outpouring of hate which has happened in our country in the last couple of weeks. People should not be continuing to die because of hateful discrimination. As people of faith, we are called to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with others and God. The actions of many in the last few weeks have been unjustified and tragic.

On June 3, 2017 I wrote a newspaper article for The Derrick's Upward View titled, "Diversity is a gift from Holy Spirit." It was published the day before the Day of Pentecost and I was pointing to the scripture passage from Acts 2 we read each year on Pentecost. In the passage, the disciples are all given gifts of speaking in different languages. God did not call one people, one language to follow Jesus. God called all the people of the world to follow Jesus and made that very clear by the Holy Spirit's gifts so the disciples could spread the Gospel to all people.

God calls all people to follow the way of Jesus Christ, and that way is Love. Even in the midst of turmoil, violence, oppression, we are called to follow the way of Love. Many in our area may be saddened by what is going on in cities and other places far away, but feel comforted by the lack of problems here. Here in Venango County, our population of 50,000 people is 95% Caucasian/White. We may not see the same kind of violence in our county based on discrimination, but that is only because it is better hidden. We are the privileged who do not have to worry about running from the police, we are the privileged who can voice our opinions without worry of death threats or violence. We are the privileged, and now it is our turn to listen. We need to listen to our brothers and sisters across the country as they speak about their experience. We need to listen to our sisters and brothers and take responsibility for our actions. We need to listen and learn how we can make changes for the common good of all.

Moving forward will take hard listening, opening up, and accepting our own actions as part of the system of injustice in our country. Moving forward will require grace and open eyes and hearts for us to make changes. We are called by God through Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit to share Love with ALL people, respecting their dignity and their abilities.

I pray we can all open our hearts to really listen in this time of change.

Elizabeth+

*This letter was emailed to the community of St. John's on May 31, 2020 on the Day of Pentecost