Jesus teaches his disciples (you and me) about love and the Law. Let us respond to God’s teaching and grace.
The Collect for the Day
O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
If we really listen to Jesus (Matthew 5:1-48) we discover that love is at the heart of the Law. Without love (as Paul later writes), “I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) Recognizing this, we have the courage to pray that our Lord will send the Holy Spirit, pouring into our hearts his greatest gift, love. Through the week let’s pay attention to God’s answer to our prayer. ~Fr. Dan
We pray that God will bless the Church to be a refuge for all as we honor God’s Name.
Charles Todd Quintard was the second bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee and the first Vice Chancellor of The University of the South at Sewanee.
Quintard was born in 1824 in Stamford, Connecticut. In 1847 he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of New York University and worked at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. After a brief episode of practicing medicine in Athens, Georgia, Quintard became the professor of anatomy and physiology at Memphis Medical College and an editor of the Memphis Medical Reporter. […]
It was while he was in Memphis that Quintard came to know Bishop James Hervey ], the first bishop of Tennessee. Under Otey’s personal tutelage, Quintard prepared for holy orders. He was ordained to the diaconate on New Year’s Day 1855 and to the priesthood on the Feast of the Epiphany, 1856. […]
During the Civil War, Quintard played dual roles in the Confederate Army as both chaplain and surgeon. Following the war, he was instrumental in bringing together the previously divided factions and extending the reach of the Episcopal Church, particularly among African Americans.
Bishop Quintard was a strong advocate of education at every level and played a major role in the establishment of schools. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the rebuilding of the University of the South at Sewanee after its destruction during the Civil War. […]
Mighty God, we bless your Name for the example of your bishop Charles Todd Quintard, who opposed the segregation of African Americans in separate congregations and condemned the exclusion of the poor; and we pray that your Church may be a refuge for all, for the honor of your Name; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Most certainly “Mighty God” will answer our prayer to be a refuge for all. Are you ready to use this strength and grace of God? What are some little ways you can begin to put this big picture grace into practice?
In this article from The Conversation, author Timothy Beal comments on our contemporary American scene while hearing, and calling attention to, the Spirit in the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures. As the title suggests the scriptures point to healing following grieving. ~Fr. Dan
For many women, people of color, LGBTQ people, Muslims and immigrants, the victory of Donald Trump seems to have endorsed discrimination against them. Acts of hatred against minorities are surfacing even more brazenly.
College campuses are reporting increasing numbers of incidents of election-related harassment and intimidation. Three days after the election, I saw a “Black Lives Matter” banner on a church wall in Denver splattered with bright red paint.
Many of us feel tremendous grief over what appears to be the end of a certain idea of American democracy. Amidst such pain and loss, many are also desperate for healing. Politicians on all sides are declaring, as Trump himself did on Nov. 9, that “it is time for America to bind the wounds of division.”
The desire to begin healing is certainly understandable. But before we can even begin to hope for healing, we need to grieve. As a scholar and teacher, I explore the many fascinating ways in which biblical images, words and even the idea of the Bible help people make meaning in their lives.
To be sure, there is a lot in the Bible about healing. But there is at least as much about grieving. The biblical tradition emphasizes the importance of grieving before moving toward healing.
To grieve is to embrace the reality of pain and loss.
The wounds are real
For many, following the elections, faith in the idea of American democracy has died. Cultural historian Neil Gabler’s “Farewell, America,” published two days after the election, expresses powerfully this sense of the end of faith in America:
“America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide…Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently.”
Indeed, irrespective of who got elected, the presidential race itself exposed mortal wounds on our body politic. We are not who we thought we were.
“When God’s people will pray with a humble heart, repenting of our sins, then God promises He will hear our prayer; He will forgive our sin and the third element is that He will heal our land.”
What do our traditions tell us?
Healing is not possible without grieving. The biblical tradition offers an invitation to sit with sadness before reaching for hope and healing. It does not simply allow for grief – it privileges it.
It dwells uncomfortably long in the valleys of loss and despair, refusing to ascend too quickly onto horizons of hope.
The Hebrew Scriptures, in fact, possess a rich vocabulary of grief. Behind the words “grief” and “grieve,” as I found in my research, there are 13 different Hebrew words with connotations ranging from physical injury, to sickness, to mourning, to rage, to agitation, to sighing, to tottering unsteadily to and fro. The most common expressions involve a mix of emotional and physical pain in the face of loss.
This privileging of grief over and before any hope of healing is powerfully expressed in the words of the Hebrew biblical prophets. As theologian Walter Brueggemann shows in his book “Reality, Grief, Hope,” the biblical prophets were not, as we often assume, predictors of the future.
Rather they were poets who, like poets today, offered alternative ways of seeing things – that is, to the way the empire (in their case ancient Israel or Judah) wanted people to see things. The prophet confronted ancient Israel’s imperial ideology of special blessing and national exceptionalism with the realities of exploitation and violence upon which its prosperity was gotten.
Addressing an audience that was in total denial that there were any serious problems in their society, the prophet gave voice to the realities of injustice, and grieved the pain and loss that was the result. They confronted the people’s denial with grief.
The prophetic imagination
Consider these words from the prophet Amos, who addressed the prosperous of northern Israel during the eighth century B.C.:
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations ...
Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches ...
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
Simultaneously pronouncing judgment for their exploitation of the poor and grief over their imminent downfall, the prophet cries out in horror for those who recline in denial of their ill-gotten prosperity and “are not grieved” (from the Hebrew word “chalah,” “made sick”) at the ruin all around.
Though they are guilty, Amos nonetheless laments that they “shall now be the first to go into exile” as a result. The prophet pronounces judgment from the inside, inviting “us” to look at ourselves, to stare at the wounds, to live into the pain, not as a path to healing but as reality in and of itself.
The crux of this “prophetic imagination” is grief. Then, and only then, is it even possible for the prophet to confront the despair of the empire in ruins with hope for the possibility of healing and restoration.
Grief as activism
I am sympathetic with those who feel driven to do something, indeed to resist despair and renew the struggle for justice. As the black feminist lawyer Florynce Kennedy famously said,
“Don’t agonize. Organize.”
But what if grief is a kind of activism? What if one of the most subversive acts right now is to give voice to our grief? To refuse to “move on”? Such grief denies denial its power to look away in desperate pursuit of healing. Just as there is no peace without justice, there is no healing without grief.
The day of Donald Trump’s election was also the anniversary of both Kristallnacht – the pogrom in 1938, when Nazi soldiers and German citizens attacked and killed many Jews and destroyed Jewish businesses, schools, and hospitals – and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
This coincidence reminds us that we together have the capacity for both atrocious horror and miraculous liberation. Even now. The difference may lie as much in how we grieve as in how we heal.
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis called for greater compassion for refugees and marginalized people less than a week after President Trump ordered a temporary immigration ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
In a video of the pontiff’s prayer intentions for February, the pope does not specifically refer to the president or his policies but emphasizes his concern about large numbers of people who he says are being marginalized and forgotten on the fringes of society.
“Don’t abandon them,” the pope says in the video, which features men and women comforting a homeless man on the street.
“Pray with me for all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees and marginalized, so they may be welcomed and find comfort in our communities.”
… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.… Matthew 25:35-36
A Caravaggio masterpiece on mercy calls to Pope Francis across the centuries
(RNS) If Pope Francis wanted a single image to illustrate the special Year of Mercy that is the current focus of his ministry and, indeed, the theme at the heart of his pontificate, he could do no better than choosing an underappreciated masterpiece by the thrilling Italian artist known as Caravaggio.
In fact, the 400-year-old canvas, an altarpiece in a Naples church titled “The Seven Acts of Mercy,” may represent the perfect combination of the man — or, rather, two men — and the moment: a brilliant painter with a scurrilous reputation who was striving for redemption, and a popular pontiff struggling to make the church more welcoming to outcasts.
Why does this painting call across the centuries?
I invite you to read the entire essay posted by Religion News Service on March 30, 2016 and learn more about Caravaggio, this remarkable painting, the theme of mercy, and how this painting (and Caravaggio himself) calls us to act with mercy and live with hope. ~Fr. Dan
This was an email letter sent to members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego on January 29, 2017 and posted the same day to the Diocesan Facebook Page.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The last nine days have been a disquieting and dizzying display of presidential action in Mr. Trump’s first days in office. It is difficult for us to find focus as he occupies the media space railing about the size of the inauguration crowd and making unsubstantiated claims regarding voter fraud. From a public policy perspective, there is much to worry about: news blackouts from federal departments, possible trade wars, and comments about illegal torture to name a few.
However, Friday’s executive order to halt immigration from seven Muslim countries, including the suspension of refugees from war-ravaged Syria, is an affront to our sense of fairness and equity. Indeed, the president even stated that our nation would give preferential treatment to Christians over Muslims, thereby invoking a religious standard for entry that is anathema to our national creed. Fanning the fears of 9/11 and ISIS, the president wants us to believe that we will be safer because we change who we are as a people who welcome the immigrant and the refugee. But we are the nation of the Marshall Plan, Famine Relief and Tsunami recovery. Our dark chapters of the last century include Franklin Roosevelt’s executive order 9066, which interred Japanese Americans because of their ethnicity. This is too eerily familiar. Surely we have learned from our past and discovered the better angels of our nature.
Episcopal News Service (ENS) posted “After presidential power shifts, Episcopalians ask: How should we pray” on January 23, 2017. It had the subtitle “Debating purpose, intention of praying for Donald Trump in church.” As internet posts go, this is a long post. It presents reasoned answers for both “yes” and “no.” What follows are a few quotes from the article. I encourage you to read the entire article here.