From The Rector…
“If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.” These are probably the most well-known words of our Presiding Bishop, Michal Curry. He says them all the time. He preaches them. He says them in his social media videos. He responds with them whenever asked a question on the subject. They are his catch phrase. Unlike some catch phrases, there is a lot of truth in this one. A lot of catch phrases I have heard are much more self-serving—politicians use them to get elected, sports fans use them to root for their favorite team, advertisers use them to get you buy stuff. I kind of like that Bishop Curry uses his to teach/preach/tell us about God.
I’m not sure how many times he said his catch phrase at RevivAL 2022 this past weekend, but it was enough that we hijacked it into a call and response. Every time he started with, “If it’s not about love…” we were quick to respond, “it’s not about God!” He also talked a lot about Beloved Community—another of his catch phrases, though this one has been developed into a full-blown initiative of the church. But even as Bishop Curry was preaching us up into a Holy Spirit, joy-filled coliseum of Episcopalians who rarely sing above a whisper, tragic events were happening in Buffalo, New York.
Buffalo, New York is Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s hometown. His father was the priest of St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, a historically black congregation, in Buffalo. Bishop Curry’s statement after the shooting alluded to his growing up “walking distance from the scene of this hateful crime” and how he and his friends “used to ride [their] bikes around the neighborhood.” For some reason, the PB’s connection to Buffalo seems to make this one feel a little closer to home—even though no Episcopalians were shot that I know of.
I feel like I should be surprised, even shocked, by yet another racially motivated mass shooting, but I’m not. I’m sure that says something about how jaded I’ve become and desensitized I am to the violence and injustice of the world around me. It does however cause me to wonder. I wonder how many more times we will hear about a racially motivated mass shooting in our lifetimes. I wonder when it will happen in Montgomery or Selma or somewhere else in the state. I wonder how much personal responsibility I hold in the brokenness of the world.
As Christians we are called to do more than say, “We believe.” We are called to put relationship above all else, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus talks a lot about who are neighbors are and he reminds us again and again that our neighbors are the ones who don’t necessarily look like us. If we are to be Jesus followers, then we must make love of neighbor our priority. That doesn’t mean simply speaking kindly to a person of color—it means being willing to advocate, use our privilege, stand up for those who have been treated inequitably for so many years. We might not be responsible for the sins that have befallen our brothers and sisters of color in the past, but we are responsible for helping to transform the structures of injustice and oppression that demonstrate a disrespect for the dignity of every human being.
The eighteen-year-old who shot and killed so many last Saturday believed that there was a conspiracy to replace white Americans with people of color. As Christians, we not only call these types of conspiracy into question, but we also vehemently deny them because we know there is only one Creator, and he has created each of us to be the beautiful rainbow of color that he populated the earth with. To give conspiracy theories such as the ones that Payton Gendron believed any credence, is to not believe God and God’s promises and covenant with us—you will be my people and I will be your God.
On Saturday, Bishop Curry was preaching to us to “Come and See” and then, “Go and Do.” We have seen—we’ve seen the redemption of God and the brokenness of man. Now we must go and do—live and profess the faith that we are ALL created by God, children of God, and as such each of us is a member of the Beloved Community.
Light and Life,