Even in seemingly dark times the light of God is all around us if only we look for it.
In response to the all the outrage concerning her opening address at the General Convention (original speech here), Episcopal presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori recently issued a response clarifying what she said. Here is the full text of her reply (thanks to Scott Stockburger) I’ve taken the liberty of quoting extensively below:
Individualism (the understanding that the interests and independence of the individual necessarily trump the interests of others as well as principles of interdependence) is basically unbiblical and unchristian. The spiritual journey at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is about holy living in community. When Jesus was asked to summarize the Torah, he said, “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” That means our task is to be in relationship with God and with our neighbors. If salvation is understood only as “getting right with God” without considering “getting right with (all) our neighbors,” then we’ve got a heresy (an unorthodox belief) on our hands…
In my address, I went on to say that sometimes this belief that salvation only depends on getting right with God is reduced to saying a simple formula about Jesus. Jesus is quite explicit in his rejection of simple formulas: “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
He is repeatedly insistent that right relationship depends on loving neighbors–for example, “those who say, ‘I love God’ and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or a sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (I John 4:20).
Salvation depends on love of God and our relationship with Jesus, and we give evidence of our relationship with God in how we treat our neighbors, nearby and far away. Salvation is gift from God, not something we can earn by our works, but neither is salvation assured by words alone. Salvation cannot be complete, in an eternal and eschatological sense, until the whole of creation is restored to right relationship…
We anticipate the restoration of all creation to right relationship, and we proclaim that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection made that possible in a new way. At the same time, salvation int he sense of cosmic reconciliation is a mystery. It’s hard to pin down or talk about. It is ultimately the gift of a good and gracious GOd, not the product of our incessant striving…
Her insistence on the word heresy annoys me. Everything else is spot on as far as I am concerned.
On a similar note, here is a wonderful and interesting little video (thanks to Jane Gober for the link) about the Episcopal Church–Episco-ninjas unite!
And finally a link to an article about Episcopal churches growing gardens to produce food for those in need, to build community, and to participate in the restoration of creation that bishop Schori (and St. Paul) talk so much about.
May God’s embracing peace be with all.