I’m writing this from Maryland (again) but with understanding that we will be leaving to come home in the next couple of days. We extended the original departure date from the 29th to August 1st. Last minute projects have cropped up and Alexis and I are trying to accomplish as much as we can for her father and Nancy knowing that life will change for them when we leave.
I wonder how the disciples must have felt when Jesus joined his Father in heaven, and they were left to “do the work that he had given them to do.” We as a community of Christians strive to do exactly this. Follow Jesus and do the work he has given us to do. But how do we know what we are to do and how do we know when we have completed that (or those) task(s)?
Most of my life I have felt the Spirit’s presence in my life. Sometimes it’s an ever so quiet voice. Other times it is so loud and overbearing that I can’t ignore it. It’s all that I can feel, hear or see.
During this time of isolation and physical distancing we still need to find a way to listen to and answer the Spirit’s call. I encourage you to find a quiet place and spend some time alone listening. If you ask, you just might find God’s spirit will speak to you. When the time is right, and God finds you ready you will indeed know what you are supposed to be doing to “do the work that you have been given to do.”
Do not be upset if the words or feelings don’t come at first. It takes time and truly listening to the spirit before many of us will hear. But for me at least I am usually led in the path that I believe that I am supposed to take.
One path of listening for me was answering this call to the priesthood. Along the way I also found that I have a penchant for organized, formal morning prayer with a group of people from around the country. I also found that I have a calling to be more involved in racial healing. I feel as a white male it’s just as much my responsibility to make that happen as anyone else. The book that Deacon George is leading us through is entitled “America’s Original Sin.” It was written by Jim Wallis, a theologian, activist, and the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine and website.
Prior to reading the book and being a part of our group that is going on this journey I would have said that we need to engage in racial reconciliation. Words matter so the phrase implies something that needs to be answered: what are we reconciling to? The first definition of reconciliation states “the restoration of friendly relations.” Was there a time in our collective past that we can go back to where blacks and people of color were treated as well as white folks?
Our baptismal covenant calls us to “respect the dignity of every human being.” We got around that in our constitution by saying that African Americans were only 3/5ths of a man (human being). We have amended that, but some still treat our brothers and sisters of color as less than white.
My purpose of all this is to ask you to start with yourself. We all make judgements based on many things. Yes, I do too. I could not have survived for 34 years as a cop if I didn’t. I’m asking you to challenge some of those old judgements and feelings. Take a new look through new eyes and listen to the Spirit’s calling as to exactly what we as Christians can do to raise up those who need us now.
The world is changing. We can continue down a path of destruction and chaos and social unrest. Or we can come together as a people who God has brought together and live as brothers and sisters in love and with respect for one another.
The book we are reading says that we can have “A segregated church or a beloved community—you can’t have both, and we must make a choice.”
Our presiding bishop calls it Beloved Community.
Peace and Love to you!
Father Tom Roy