...The work ahead of this diocese in the coming months is going to be about identity, reconciliation, and mission. As you seek a renewed life together in Christ, you are going to be invited to remember who and whose you are, why you're here, and what you're going to do about it. A useful shorthand might be: identity, vocation, and mission as members of the body of Christ. I have just a few reminders as you seek answers to those questions:J.
1) Jesus is Lord. In the same sense that Jesus is Lord, and not Caesar, remember that no one else -- not any hierarch, not any ecclesiastical official, not any one of you, is Lord. We belong to God, whom we know in Jesus, and there is no other place we find the ground of our identity
2) We are all made in the image of God. Even when we can't see that image of God immediately, we are challenged to keep searching for it, especially in those who may call us enemy. There is pain and hurt here to be reconciled, and searching for the image of God in those we have offended and who have offended us is a central part of our reconciling vocation.
3) In baptism we discover that we are meant to be for others, in the same way that God is for us. Jesus the best evidence of that. And that means that God's mission must be the primary focus, not our own hurt or indeed anything that focuses on our own selves to the exclusion of neighbor. For when we miss the neighbor, we miss God. I believe you are already discovering that God is healing old wounds as you work together. The work is just beginning, and it may not be easy, but it is essential. Focusing on the other, the ones outside this body, is going to be a vital part of discovering resurrection. Archbishop William Temple famously said that this church is the only human institution that exists primarily for the good of those outside of it. There is plenty of need here in this part of California -- among migrant workers, single parents, young people with little sense of future or direction, returning veterans… Put your eyes upon Jesus in the form of those strangers, and you will find resurrection.
And, finally, remember that you are not alone. This part of the Body of Christ is only one limb. The rest of the Episcopal Church is with you, and will continue to be with you. A few people have joined you here today as incarnate evidence of the love of Christ, known in community. We stand with you in the firm and constant hope that this body will grow and flourish and bless the central valley of California in ways you have not yet dreamed of. And we will celebrate with you as that becomes reality.
Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Bishop Katharine to San Joaquin: "You Are Not Alone"
From Episcopal Life: