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All Saints’ Monthly

August 2020

Dear saints,

In his first letter to the church in Corinth the Apostle Paul speaks of the resurrection life. He encourages followers of Jesus to ‘be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’ Paul proclaims to them that death will not have the victory, and that ‘we will all be changed’. Such is the Christian hope – that death does not have the final word. Yet this hope is not a hope only for tomorrow, only for the life after we put off mortal flesh. Our hope is for now. We are to be steadfast, and immovable, excelling in our work laboring in God’s vineyard, now. We are to be changed, now. As we look to a new program year of mission and ministry at All Saints’ we do so knowing that the challenges of this present hour in the life of our world are weighty. The global health crisis we are all enduring has changed the way we live and it has tested our resolve and resources profoundly. Alongside this, we have all been ushered into an awakening for how our Christian faith might respond to the lived realities and hurts and wrongs that people of color have been living with for generations, not only in the black and Latinx communities here in the United States, but around the world.

So, how do we respond? What do we hear God speaks to us, ‘deep to deep’, as the Psalmist says?

Well, we know that whatever the response we might commit to, it will be need to be as Paul laid out two millennia ago: that we too will be changed. The Christian faith has no safe haven for inertia. The life of faith by its nature is a life of change. We are called to unearth the tendencies and practices that draw us away from the kind of life that God calls us into. Such change requires honesty, and the courage to be vulnerable among others in how we narrate our interior struggles out in the open. The peace of God comes by the way of confession. Truth-telling precedes absolution.

So how might we tell our truth to one another and to ourselves in ways that will change us? For sure, we will have to dismiss the easy temptation to fall into the same patterns of dismissal and disruption that popular and political culture offer. We all need to move past the ready-made indignation sometimes presented in response to phrases such as ‘white supremacy’, or ‘racism’, or ‘white privilege’ as well as the reduction of conversations about the whole of society to a conversation only about the individual. It is here that our identity as Christians is so essential. Sin is a shared human phenomenon. We embark on life-denying decisions and behaviors and hold inclinations in alliances with others. Yet, the church’s witness to the world is that we can also embark on life-giving work together that builds the kingdom of God, an insurgent hope that never gives up on the inherent goodness and promise of all God’s people.

This year ahead of us, I invite you to hope in change such as this. We do not need to agree with one another, but we do need to love. We do not need to share the same feelings, but we do have to commit together to make our world more akin to God’s vision for creation. We will not shy from calling the questions we need to call so that we can all learn, grow, confess, repent and change. Death does not have the final word in God’s economy. Love will prevail. May that love abound in your life this year ahead.

Peace,

The Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring

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