Being grateful this year for Thanksgiving

Being grateful this year for Thanksgiving

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Dear friends in Christ,

Thanksgiving is the beginning of a season of traditions for many of us. In the United States we tend to gather around food – lots of food. We expect to share our thankfulness in ways that make sense to our family cultures, however we define “family.” The meaning of Thanksgiving has changed dramatically for those of us who were raised on the standard story of pilgrims thanking the Native Peoples for helping them survive. This national holiday is no longer a celebration of colonialism; it is a day that has meaning based on a broadened invitation to reflect on historical injustices alongside those things for which we are grateful.  

In these times, we do find ourselves feeling somewhat frail in the area of gratefulness, however. Most of us are just too tired or stressed to reflect on the topic. It feels like we are still scrambling to adjust, adapt, and cope. As we approach Thanksgiving, I have been reflecting on the tension between the desire to be thankful and the temptation to give over to hopelessness, even despair. From global concerns over the “environmental cliff” to local concerns for racial justice in our communities, the weight of acting in the face of enormous odds can feel paralyzing.

Yet, our Christian story continues to push and prod us forward. God is relentlessly creating and stirring the Holy Spirit to dwell amongst us – kicking up light and love to remind us that hope will not be deterred. Even more, God does not need us to express false optimism or to sugar-coat that which is painful. We are called to be faithful – to return to prayers that shape us through praise, petition, confession, and gratitude. Too often we confuse hopefulness with being cheerful as in, “it’ll all turn out ok – you’ll see.” But as followers of Jesus, we know that lasting hopefulness is gritty and clear-eyed. And this kind of hope is founded on gratitude.

There are, undoubtedly, reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving – for healing, for a goal achieved, for a reconciled relationship, for laughter, and for love. It’s also true that this season is accompanied by disturbing reminders of the brokenness of our world. This week alone, we wonder whether justice will truly be delivered in cases of racial violence. This mixture of joy and despair does not require sorting before we express gratitude. We are called to be grateful for all of it, and, in order to do this well, we need to dive in: in the face of injustice, for what are we thankful?  

Be grateful for the courage to speak out.  
Be grateful for hearts and minds that seek out solutions.  
Be grateful for a faith that continually fuels us to respect the dignity of every human being.  
Be grateful for a God who is tireless in calling us to respond to the weak, the vulnerable, and those in need.  

Above all, let’s be grateful for the wisdom to know that we are not God – only God is God; we are simply called to reflect God faithfully and with compassion. This we know with great clarity because of the one who came amongst us to live as one of us, Jesus.

For his bold and selfless love, let us be ever grateful this Thanksgiving.

In Christ,

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Collect for Thanksgiving, BCP p. 246)


Queridos Amigos en Cristo,

El Día de Acción de Gracias es el inicio de una temporada de tradiciones para muchos de nosotros. En los Estados Unidos tenemos la costumbre de reunirnos alrededor de la comida, mucha comida. Esperamos compartir nuestro agradecimiento de maneras que tengan sentido para nuestras culturas familiares, sin importar cómo definamos “familia”. El significado de Acción de Gracias ha cambiado drásticamente para aquellos de nosotros que fuimos criados en la historia común de los peregrinos agradeciendo a los Pueblos Nativos por ayudarlos a sobrevivir. Esta fiesta nacional ya no es una celebración del colonialismo; es un día que tiene sentido a partir de una invitación más amplia para reflexionar sobre las injusticias históricas junto a aquellas cosas por las que estamos agradecidos.

Sin embargo, en estos tiempos nos sentimos, en cierto modo, frágiles en el área del agradecimiento. La mayoría de nosotros estamos demasiado cansados ​​o estresados ​​para reflexionar sobre este tema. Parece que todavía estamos luchando por ajustarnos, adaptarnos y hacerle frente. A medida que nos acercamos al Día de Acción de Gracias, he estado reflexionando sobre la tensión entre el deseo de estar agradecido y la tentación de entregarse a la desesperanza, incluso a la desesperación. Empezando por las preocupaciones globales sobre el “precipicio ambiental” y continuando con  las preocupaciones locales por la justicia racial en nuestras comunidades y el enorme peso para actuar frente a enormes dificultades, todo esto puede resultar paralizante.

Sin embargo, nuestra historia cristiana continúa empujándonos y empujándonos hacia adelante. Dios está creando y moviendo incansablemente para que more entre nosotros el Espíritu Santo, dándonos luz y amor para recordarnos que la esperanza no será desalentada. Más aún, Dios no necesita que expresemos un falso optimismo o que endulcemos lo que es doloroso. Estamos llamados a ser fieles, a volver a las oraciones que nos forman a través de la alabanza, la petición, la confesión y la gratitud. Con demasiada frecuencia confundimos la esperanza con la alegría, cuando decimos: “todo saldrá bien, ya verás”. Pero como seguidores de Jesús, sabemos que la esperanza duradera es valiente y clara. Y este tipo de esperanza se basa en la gratitud.

Sin duda, hay razones para estar agradecidos en este Día de Acción de Gracias: por la curación, por una meta alcanzada, por una relación reconciliada, por la risa y por el amor. También es cierto que esta temporada va acompañada de inquietantes recordatorios de nuestro mundo tan agrietado. Esta semana, precisamente,  nos preguntamos si realmente se hará justicia en los casos de violencia racial. Esta mezcla de alegría y desesperación no requiere una clasificación antes de expresar gratitud. Estamos llamados a estar agradecidos por todo ello y, para hacerlo bien, necesitamos meternos de lleno: ante la injusticia, ¿de qué podremos estar agradecidos?

Estemos agradecidos por el valor de hablar.
Estemos agradecidos por los corazones y las mentes que buscan soluciones.
Estemos agradecidos por una fe que continuamente nos impulsa a respetar la dignidad de todo ser humano.
Estemos agradecidos por a un Dios que no se cansa para llamarnos a contestar a los débiles, vulnerables y necesitados.

Sobre todo, estemos agradecidos por la sabiduría de saber que no somos Dios, solo Dios es Dios; simplemente estamos llamados a reflejar a Dios fielmente y con compasión. Esto lo sabemos con gran claridad por el que vino entre nosotros para vivir como uno de nosotros, Jesús.

Por su amor valiente y desinteresado, estemos siempre agradecidos en este Día de Acción de Gracias.

En Cristo,

Reflections from a Hospital Chaplain

This blog was written by the Rev. Jennifer M Creswell. Jennifer has served parishes and hospitals in Portland and New York as a priest for 15 years and is currently serving as a healthcare chaplain at Hillsboro Medical Center and Tillamook Medical Center. She also supports families through transitions as a postpartum and end-of-life doula.

Please note that this reflection mentions deaths related to COVID-19.


An ICU nurse said to me recently, “it feels like people are meaner this time around.” In the first wave of COVID, it felt like we were all in this together. Now, nearly a year after the vaccine has been available, we are divided. This nurse wasn’t exaggerating. She told me of patients and families harassing her, calling her constantly throughout her shift demanding untested treatments they’d read about online. She said she’d been threatened with legal action by patients she’d treated—patients who presented to the hospital struggling to breathe but who denied the existence of COVID, much less their own diagnosis. This nurse and others describe a strange new reality in which healthcare providers are suspect, even dangerous to certain people. Patients who take an aggressive stance against whatever the medical team recommends, so deep is their mistrust.

I’ve been reflecting on this, and what it means to be a follower of Christ in this time, from my perspective as a hospital chaplain (in the Portland area and at the coast) in the time of COVID.

Our faith compels us to move toward Oneness—closer union with the trinitarian God, with other humans and with all creation in the recognition that we are, fundamentally, interconnected and that we belong to each other. But how do we practice this moving toward union when we humans are so divided on the surface of things?  

In the hospital, I see some of the things that divide us and the things we continue to hold in common. When a loved one is sick, families worry. When someone dies, their people grieve. People with and without COVID, for the most part, would rather not be in the hospital. 

In the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time than usual walking with unvaccinated COVID patients as they die and with their families. Their grief is familiar to me; their longing for things to be different, their anger, their frustration, their mystification. These are often present in various forms when a loved one is dying. What I don’t hear from these patients and families is regret. They maintain that the vaccine is dangerous, that COVID is mild, or that it is made up altogether.

People are going to the cross for their beliefs. They are dying—and watching loved ones die—rather than compromise their beliefs. These beliefs are about COVID, sure, but they are about something else: about identity, about autonomy, about fear, about worthiness (the need to be seen, the need to be valued, the need to have one’s opinions—and more, one’s life—validated).

I’ll be honest with you: I struggle with these deaths. Not with supporting the patients and their families, but with the (to me) unnecessary suffering I see. The father, the mother, the brother dying before their time and leaving families bereft. It seems selfish, to go all the way to death in order to be right. But there’s got to be more to it than that.  What would people die for? That is the question I hear coming out of this. What would I die for? What is it that these-who-would-be-martyrs gain from going all the way to the grave?

As a Christian, as someone whose God also submitted to death, these deaths make me pay attention. I don’t know what they mean. The questions haunt me. And sadden me. And stir my compassion and my imagination.  

Reflections on Racial Justice

This reflection was written by Michael Montgomery and Madeline Moore, co-conveners of the Engaging Racial Justice Working Group for the Diocese of Oregon

Have you ever let yourself dream about what our world, including our church, would be like without systematic racism? The Working Group on Racial Justice has been engaging in a process of asking as many Diocesan members as possible the following question:

If the Diocese of Oregon were to undergo a powerful transformation of racial reconciliation through the power of the Holy Spirit, what specific qualities and characteristics would we see?

This includes thinking about such things as programs, interaction, liturgy, stories, and foci.

We are finding that defining just what racial reconciliation is turns out to be both part of the process and part of the answer.

 Some of the comments we have received include:

  • Reworking our creeds and prayers, to be more inclusive.
  • Doing the work of seeing Christ in one another. Discipleship where our politics, poverty, and well-being of others is at the center of our work.
  • Offering kindness and perhaps feeling discomfort at the same time.
  • Not putting the burden on the ones being marginalized.
  • In a racially reconciled Diocese, whiteness will not be the norm.
  • Our congregation is totally white, and we are exactly the population who need to embrace the Holy Spirit and move toward racial understanding and the elimination of racism

How about you? What do your dreams include? We would love for you to take some time to think about this question and email us back so that we can be more expansive in our work.

We welcome all thoughts and comments. Please send them to diocesecter@gmail.com.

God is a basic need and Deacons will help us see that.

Dear friends in Christ,

“The Diaconate just might be what saves the church in these times.” These words came from a clergy colleague years ago. We were at a conference and the discussion topic was the changing church. Our focus had been primarily on the priesthood and the kind of leadership priests ought to have for these times. A thoughtful silence followed her words as the group reflected on this shift in perspective.

My own reflection in that moment was, “Oh snap! How did we miss that?” And ever since, I have turned my attention to engaging the ministry of deacons by asking folks how they understand the distinct order of the diaconate.

Last Saturday I spent the morning with the Community of Deacons to get to know them and to begin a conversation about the ways they are called to serve as Christ’s hands and feet in the world. We talked about the central metaphor for the diaconate: a bridge. Deacons are the bridge between the church and the world. Their ministry is anchored in the sure and certain knowledge that their work is to make tangible the healing and hope of Christ’s presence in the midst of suffering. This is no great insight as the deacons in this diocese know this and are living it out with deep faithfulness. But, further thought and engagement is needed around the way in which deacons are uniquely called to interpret and demonstrate the need for God in one’s daily life.

These past few Sundays, our gospel proclamation has been from Mark’s gospel, which features rich descriptions of crowds seeking out Jesus for healing – they are so clear about his ability to heal that they know to merely touch the fringe of his coat will make them whole. I remember hearing a sermon in seminary about this theme in Mark’s gospel. The preacher eloquently framed a teaching about the accounts of Jesus healing and feeding people: we have essential needs (i.e. food, clothes, shelter) that must first be met before we can receive the more substantial food of Jesus’ teaching about God. For years that has been an underlying theme in my reflection on Mark’s gospel.

But as I reflect on my time with the Community of Deacons, I began to wonder if we don’t have it wrong in framing Jesus’ ministry that way. Isn’t Jesus’ teaching as essential as food and clothing? Interpreting Mark’s gospel using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is not a true reflection of how we need God in our lives. More true is the proclamation, in thought, word, and deed, of the essential nature of our faith in God. Our need for God in our lives is as basic, essential, and critical as food and clothing.

How would the church and the world change if our deacons served others with a life-giving conversation about the basic need for God in one’s daily life? How could this conversation be framed to side-step proselytizing and coercive evangelizing? What would bubble up from hearing someone describe the ways that God’s love, forgiveness, and grace brings joy and meaning to their life? For surely one can be fed, clothed, and housed and continue to live in misery and to suffer a joyless existence.  

I am a Christian for many reasons but the most important is this: I cannot imagine my life without God at the center. I need God in the same way I need food and water. God is a basic and essential part of my existence, and it is most certainly not the case that I have certain basic needs that come before turning to God. God lives and moves and speaks into every need or yearning I have – there is no place God is not.

The Community of Deacons heard me speak with great commitment and passion about the diaconate and my clarity about the hope they represent not only for this diocese but for the entire church. I am looking forward to walking with our laity and priests as we look with creativity and eagerness at the diaconal mission. God is on the move, and deacons have a key role to play in helping us recognize where this holy presence is taking us in the church and in the world.

In Christ,

+Diana

Courage vs. Conformity

Dear Friends in Christ,

I recently read a quote that stuck with me:  “The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.”  The author is Jim Hightower, columnist and long-time populist from Texas.

Those words continue to echo in my reflections because we don’t typically think of courage dying in the hands of conformity. Courageous images tend to be images of soldiers bravely defending a country, or a passerby stepping in to prevent someone being attacked. To have courage is to stand out as someone with bravery and selflessness.  

After musing on this quote, it’s hard not to think of courage as a quality that is much more accessible than we realize. If we have the capacity to conform, we also have the capacity to act with courage by not conforming.  But the ease of conformity can drain our courage, making it easier to go with the flow instead of stepping up to do the right or fair thing.

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is the story of King Herod ordering John the Baptist’s beheading. It is one of the more gruesome stories in The Bible, and is horrifying as a reflection on Herod’s desire to please his daughter and guests more than refusing to take a man’s life. We often focus on the way John the Baptist was dehumanized in order to justify killing him. Yet, looking at this story through the lens of conformity, we see a very different kind of dynamic. Rather than an example of dehumanizing an other, this story reveals the ease of conforming with a graphic example of abdicating one’s call to be courageous – to refuse to conform.

Conformity is seductive. It slips into our every day lives quietly and calmly. It is what makes things go smoothly in often productive and benign ways. Conformity is not a bad thing, on its face. But it can generate acts that lack reflection, compassion, mercy, and justice. Conformity also works quickly and in frightening ways when a crowd turns into a mob – and this is often justified by twisting conformity into a perversion of courage. Mob violence is not courage in numbers. It is the opposite of courage; it is conformity.

Jesus was a courageous human. And, I believe this was so because of his capacity to perfectly reflect God through prayerful reflection, compassion, mercy, and a laser-like wisdom when it came to questions of justice. Stories of his ministry give us example after example of his refusal to conform when it threatened to enervate his teachings on compassion and mercy.

Practically speaking, our daily lives cannot be sustained without conforming. The challenge, in this tension between conformity and courage, is to reflect and ask ourselves, “Am I conforming in order to truly help others, or am I conforming to avoid God’s call to lean in where justice and compassion are needed?” 

As Christians, the even better practice is to take this question to God. How might our open-hearted prayers reveal God’s yearning for us to step out of the ease of conformity to be courageous on behalf of another?

Blessings,
+Diana

Holy Week 2021

Dear friends in Christ,

It was the 1970’s and I was gathered around the television with my parents and sister to watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The theme music began and Jim McKay’s voice introduced the program. His unique style of intonation and emphasis made the phrase the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat ring. 

The dual themes of “victory” and “defeat” resound during this season as we prepare for Holy Week. The appointed liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer for this Sunday, Palm Sunday, rushes us through the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The liturgy of the palms is our enactment of Jesus’ triumphal entry and, in the same liturgy, we enact Jesus being condemned to die a brutal death. We are given a liturgy on Palm Sunday that assumes the congregation will not likely return for services during the week. So, it attempts to summarize the entire story in one liturgy. This results in a kind of worship whiplash that is far from what I imagine the architects of this liturgy intended.  

It is important to remember that Holy Week is actually one entire liturgy. It doesn’t work to compress an entire week of reflection, prayer, and praise into one hour of worship. The power and promise of Christ’s resurrection finds its full expression in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil – the conclusion of Holy Week and the primary liturgy of our tradition.

As you prepare for Holy Week, I encourage you to explore how you might participate in the entire liturgy: Palm Sunday to Easter Vigil. The challenge of worshipping in this pandemic will bring a different sense and feel to our worship, but it may also make it easier to “attend” all the services during Holy Week. 

In truth, our Holy Week to Easter Vigil liturgy is much much more than an enactment of the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” It is the human story enveloped in God’s grace: the joys of hope, the tragedy of injustice, the horror of a cruel death, and the lavish promise of new and unending life. It is my hope that, through a fuller engagement with our Holy Week to Easter Vigil liturgy, our understanding of Christ’s resurrection will be rich and full and truly life-giving.

Blessings, 
+Diana


Queridos amigos en Cristo,

Era la década de 1970 y estaba reunida, alrededor de la televisión, con mis padres y mi hermana para ver El Gran Mundo de los Deportes en ABC. Comenzó el tema musical y la voz de Jim McKay que hizo la introducción al programa. Su estilo único de entonación y énfasis hizo que al oír la frase se sintiera la emoción de la victoria y la agonía de la derrota.

Este doble tema de “victoria” y “derrota” resuena durante esta temporada mientras nos preparamos para la Semana Santa. La liturgia señalada en el Libro de Oración Común para este domingo, Domingo de Ramos, nos lanza a través de la emoción de la victoria y la agonía de la derrota. La liturgia de las palmas es nuestra representación de la entrada triunfal de Jesús y, en la misma liturgia, representamos a Jesús condenado a una muerte brutal. En esta liturgia del Domingo de Ramos se asume que la congregación probablemente no regresará para los servicios durante la semana. Entonces, intenta resumir toda la historia en una sola liturgia. Esto resulta como una especie de empujón dentro del culto, que está lejos de lo que se imaginaron los diseñadores de esta liturgia.

Es importante recordar que la Semana Santa es en realidad una liturgia completa. No funciona tratar de reducir una semana entera de reflexión, oración y adoración en una hora del servicio. El poder y la promesa de la resurrección de Cristo encuentran su plena expresión en la liturgia de la Vigilia Pascual, que es la conclusión de la Semana Santa y la liturgia principal de nuestra tradición.

Mientras se preparan para la Semana Santa, los invito a explorar cómo podrían participar en toda la liturgia: del Domingo de Ramos a la Vigilia Pascual. El desafío litúrgico en esta pandemia traerá un sentido y estilo diferente a nuestra celebración, pero también puede hacer que sea más fácil “asistir” a todos los servicios durante la Semana Santa.

En verdad, nuestra liturgia de la Semana Santa a la Vigilia Pascual es mucho, mucho más que, una representación de la “emoción de la victoria y la agonía de la derrota”. Es la historia humana envuelta en la gracia de Dios: el gozo de la esperanza, la tragedia de la injusticia, el horror de una muerte cruel, y la magnífica promesa de una vida nueva y eterna. Espero que, a través de un compromiso más pleno con nuestra liturgia de la Semana Santa a la Vigilia Pascual, lleguemos a comprender la resurrección de Cristo para que sea rica, plena y verdaderamente vivificante.

Bendiciones, 
+Diana

Life centered in prayer, March 18, 2021

En Español

“Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.” 
—Elie Wiesel

In 2009, I made my vows and became an oblate of a Benedictine monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin. At the center of the Benedictine spiritual practice is praying the Psalms. Before I knew about the Benedictine order and its relationship with the Psalms, I found them one day as I sat in quiet reflection in an empty church. After sitting with my own jumbled petitions, I decided I wanted to read a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. I leafed through the prayer book and ended up in the back pages where the Psalms are printed. This began my relationship with the Psalms. Finding a religious order centered on praying the Psalms some 25 years later added structure and depth to my practice.

One of the Psalms for today Thursday, March 18 in memory of Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, is Psalm 34: 1-8.  Verses 4-6 resonated strongly as I prayed over the Asian women in Atlanta who were murdered by a gunman on Tuesday, March 16. 

I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him, and be radiant;
and let not your faces be ashamed.

I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.

The violence in our communities is staggering. It is difficult to resist despair as we struggle with feeling helpless. Often our thoughts go to grand and magical remedies, “If I could just wave a wand and make all lethal weapons disappear, then we could live in peace.” While reasonable laws about owning guns would help protect the innocent, the quest for peace will persist. We can legislate for civil peace, but no law will help us find spiritual peace…at least no human law.

Jesus’ summary of the law to love God and love your neighbor, is the way to peace. And we can’t get there without prayer. Our life in Christ must be centered in prayer. There is no other way to peace because there is no other way to God than through prayer. If we’re honest, days like Tuesday are a challenge to kneel in quiet prayer. We want to scream “somebody should do something!” This is where the honesty of the Psalms can ground our prayer. Sometimes the suitable prayer is a wail of sorrow and deep grief. Sometimes it is an outright complaint, how long, O Lord, how long? The Psalms reflect our human condition in all our complexity; and they always bring us back to God.

I am filled with deep sorrow over the shootings in Atlanta. When I first heard the news, I was speechless. It has taken me a while to find the words because my first reaction was to weep and wail. What followed after silence and prayer, was a petition to God for the troubled man with the gun. For peace to replace the violence in his heart. For love to replace his indifference to human life. For healing to replace his broken spirit. For a relationship with one kind person to replace the demons that torment him. And I also pray that we will, each of us, take the practice of prayer seriously because, without prayer, we begin to believe that the demons are “out there” needing to be slayed. In fact, the most deadly demons are within.  Let us pray to God to be liberated from our fears.  Let us pray to God to become each others beloved in Christ so that our alienation is no more.  Let us then, with authentic hope, say to one another, “the Peace of Christ be always with you.”

Yours in Christ,
+Diana


En Español

“La indiferencia, para mí, es la personificación del mal”.
– Elie Wiesel

En 2009, hice mis votos y me convertí en oblata de un monasterio benedictino en Middleton, Wisconsin. En el centro de la práctica espiritual benedictina es la oración de los Salmos. Antes de saber sobre la orden benedictina y su relación con los Salmos, los encontré un día mientras estaba sentada en una iglesia vacía con reflexión tranquila.

Después de estar sentada con mis propias peticiones desorganizadas, decidí que quería leer una oración del Libro de Oración Común. Hojeé el libro de oraciones y terminé en las últimas páginas donde están los Salmos. Esto inició mi relación con los Salmos. Después de 25 años el encontrar una orden religiosa centrada en rezar los Salmos, le dio estructura y profundidad a mi práctica.

Uno de los salmos para hoy jueves 18 de marzo en memoria de Cirilo, Obispo de Jerusalén, es el Salmo 34: 1-8. Los versículos 4-6 resonaron con fuerza mientras oraba por las mujeres asiáticas en Atlanta que fueron asesinadas el martes por el asesino.

Le pedí a Dios que me ayudara,
y su respuesta fue positiva:
¡me libró del miedo que tenía!


Los que a él acuden
se llenan de alegría
y jamás pasan vergüenzas.


Yo, que nada valgo,
llamé a Dios, y él me oyó,
y me salvó de todas mis angustias.

La violencia en nuestras comunidades es impactante. Es difícil resistir a la desesperación mientras luchamos con el sentimiento de impotencia. A menudo, nuestros pensamientos se dirigen a remedios grandiosos y mágicos, “Si pudiera mover una varita y hacer desaparecer todas las armas mortíferas, entonces podríamos vivir en paz”. A pesar de que las leyes sensatas sobre la posesión de armas ayudarían a proteger a los inocentes, la búsqueda por la paz continuará. Podemos legislar para una paz civil, pero ninguna ley nos ayudará a encontrar la paz espiritual … al menos ninguna ley humana.

El resumen de Jesús sobre la ley de amar a Dios y amar al prójimo es el camino hacia la paz. Y no podemos llegar a ella sin la oración. Nuestra vida en Cristo debe centrarse en la oración. No hay otro camino para la paz porque no hay otro camino a Dios sino a través de la oración. Si somos honestos, días como el martes son una causa para arrodillarse en oración silenciosa. Queremos gritar “¡alguien debería hacer algo!” Aquí es donde la sinceridad de los Salmos puede ser el fundamento a nuestra oración. A veces, la oración adecuada es un lamento del dolor y una tristeza profunda. A veces es una queja sincera, ¿hasta cuándo, oh Señor, hasta cuándo? Los Salmos reflejan nuestra condición humana con toda nuestra complejidad; y siempre nos llevan a Dios.

Tengo una tristeza profunda por la balacera en Atlanta. Cuando escuché la noticia por primera vez, me quedé sin palabras. Me ha tomado un tiempo para encontrar las palabras, porque mi primera reacción fue la de llorar y lamentar. Después del silencio y la oración, siguió una petición a Dios por el hombre perturbado y armado con la pistola. Que la paz reemplace la violencia en su corazón. Que el amor reemplace su indiferencia por la vida humana. Para que la sanación reemplace su espíritu quebrantado. Para que la relación con una persona amable reemplace los demonios que lo atormentan.

Y también hago oración para que, cada uno de nosotros, tomemos en serio la práctica de la oración porque, sin oración, comenzamos a creer que los demonios están “ahí afuera” y necesitan ser asesinados. Cuando de hecho, los demonios mortales están dentro de uno. Recemos a Dios para que nos libere de nuestros miedos. Oremos a Dios para lleguemos a amarnos unos a otros en Cristo y no exista más nuestra enemistad. Entonces, con auténtica esperanza, nos digamos unos a otros: “La Paz de Cristo está siempre contigo”.

De ustedes en Cristo,

+Diana

A message during Lent from your bishop

Dear friends in Christ,

How are your Lenten practices unfolding this season? Are they opening up a new space for you to reflect, pray, sigh deeply, exhale? If your answer is “no” I invite you to stop and re-think your practice for this season. Perhaps your revised practice should be more along the lines of eliminating things on your list of  to dos. Perhaps you are doing enough regarding the things of this world; perhaps doing less is perfectly fine. Perhaps what your soul hungers for is a different kind of moment…one that is not filled with anything tangible.  Perhaps what your soul desires is a moment with the intangible: a few minutes of sitting in stillness, walking away from your screen and looking at the clouds,, a good cry, a good belly laugh, calling someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile to tell them you are thinking about them.

We have been suffering for a year. Knowing that this will pass, at some point in the future, does not make it less awful in the moment. We continue to suffer and struggle while finding a way to keep our days from feeling like one long nightmare of disconnection.  

The fullness of our humanity is under stress in ways we could not have anticipated. And even under the weight of this suffering, we know that we can and do anticipate God’s full and certain presence with us. Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth reminds us: “This too shall pass.” I remind us of this assurance not as a light-weight pep talk but as a reminder that our humanity is fully alive in God known to us in Jesus the Human One. This divine presence is available to us even in our suffering, our stress, our impatience with the daily Covid routines.  

Perhaps a simple revision to our Lenten practice might be to pivot, ever so slightly, away from all this we know will pass away and find a space to be with God … to be in God. A deep sigh. An exhale. A good cry. A belly laugh. These are ways to be in God, and they are blessings in the midst of our suffering.

O Lord, strong and mighty, Lord of hosts and King of glory: Cleanse our hearts from sin, keep our hands pure, and turn our minds from what is passing away; so that at the last we may stand in your holy place and receive your blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Diana

Fishing for the Divine

By the Rev. Marlene Mutchler, vicar of St. Bede’s, Forest Grove

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” (Gospel Reading for January 26, 2020, Matthew 4:18-19, NRSV).

My grandfather Edward taught me to fish from a motor boat on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. We saw kingfishers, and alligators, and miles and miles of everglades during our expeditions. I learned from him how to bait a hook and how to cast, especially how to snap the rod at the end to make the line fly out with that satisfying sound long into the water.

I wasn’t great at fishing. I caught some fish. The point was more about being with Grandpa. Maybe it was just that Grandpa was one of the few people in my life who thought it was worthwhile to teach a girl to fish. It made me feel human. There was never a question when we visited about whether or not I would or could come along; I was always invited.

Today whenever I see a rod and reel I think about being with him, laughing in the hot sun and coming home with my skin smarting, covered with a towel or whatever I could find as the shadows lengthened.

Long before I knew him, my grandfather had wanted to be a Pastor and somehow decided to come all the way out here to Portland from Michigan to attend Western Theological Seminary. He was a mason (actual bricklayer, not the club member) and built a small cinder block house at 625 NW Kelly in Gresham. (I know because that address is written in his very-well used King James Bible that I now own.) Last time I checked Google Earth, the house was still there. The weather didn’t agree with my grandmother and her allergies, so the family moved back to Michigan.

Flash forward about 70 years. After my family moved from Michigan to Oregon for Wade’s job, I was looking for an educational path to pursue a call to priesthood in the Episcopal Church and decided to study locally at George Fox Seminary (now Portland Seminary) while also taking classes at Church Divinity School in Berkeley for Episcopal studies.

Little did I know that Western Theological Seminary had merged some years back with George Fox Seminary. When I found that out, I truly felt like I was following in my grandfather’s footsteps by learning to fish for people and maybe finishing the work he started. The man who taught the girl to fish also, likely inadvertently, instilled in her a desire to fish for people. My studies for the priesthood really kicked into gear after Grandpa Edward died. I wonder what he would think of me now?

When my grandfather and I fished together he was not just catching fish, he was fishing for me. He taught me that I mattered. I was worth his time. It also modeled for me a way of being with people with no agenda other than love. It gave me the audacity to believe that the divine spark also resided in me. Learning to fish for people is not just about saying “God” and “Jesus” every other word. It begins by recognizing the divine presence already within our neighbors.