Read a transcript of the message below
Our Convention theme this year was “by the greatness of love”. Psalm 5 vs. 7 has been a constant reminder to me in the midst of this daunting pandemic moment that no matter the obstacle, if we keep our eyes focused on God and God‘s love, we can get through it together.
I think it is fitting that we celebrate All Saints and All Faithful Departed, also referred to as All Souls, as we cast our eyes about and claim the living saints who keep us steady and remind us that there is hope in the midst of overwhelming obstacles and burdens. And as we look back—look back upon those most difficult moments in our lives and recall the presence or comforting words of those saints who have gone before us. You know them – Name them – Claim them – they may have been a parent, or family member, neighbor, teacher or a giant in the community. We invoke their presence at this time.
As that familiar hymn reminds us, the saints of God “who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew” are always reminding us to stay focused on God and the greatness of his love.
Our presiding Bishop Michael Curry is quick to clarify that the “love” we must be preaching is not a sentiment, “but a spiritual commitment to seek the good and the welfare of others, not the self.” This is a call to mobilize the power of selfless, sacrificial love. And all will be well because God is God and God has not given up on us.
There is a wonderful 4th century writing written by Saint Ambrose after the death of his beloved brother, Satyrus. And Ambrose, you may recall, was Bishop of Milan. And he was astounded by his brother’s willingness to leave his own vocation and to come and work alongside him and manage the governance of the diocese. This is a treatise or testimony for all those support staff everywhere. And Ambrose writes passionately about the character of his saintly brother. And I quote from chapter 51:
“But in what words can I set forth his simplicity? By this I mean a certain moderation of character and soberness of mind… he was the likeness of perfect virtue, and character. Therefore he entered into the kingdom of heaven, because he believed the word of God… he was more ready to listen to complaints than to guile, ready for conciliation, inaccessible to ambition, holy in modesty, so that in him one would rather speak of excess of bashfulness than have to seek for such as is needful.”
My friends, our nation is in desperate need of saintly voices and moral action. As we long to become the beloved community, I implore us to stay steady—stay steady. To reach towards goodness and hope when anger and retaliation seem ever more fitting. I implore us to reach out however we are able, and as safely as we can in this pandemic moment—a phone call, a note, a gesture of kindness for someone who may be struggling.
I implore you to pray fervently and call upon the saints of God to strengthen us and guide us in all that awaits in the days ahead.
I implore us to stay close to Jesus. When others stoke fear or division, heed his words: “Be not afraid.”
“But, by the greatness of love” we can be the Beloved Community our souls long for, where all creation is embraced as one family. But we must walk together. My dear saints, we must walk together.
Stay strong and know of my love.