Tag Archive for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

Now is the day of salvation: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, #WMARevival and Creation Care

This month the Bishop’s Blog is co-written by The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, our Missioner for Creation Care, and Bishop Fisher.

Everyone (and we mean everyone) knows our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as “the Royal Wedding Preacher.” He certainly touched souls around the world in his inspired message of the transforming power of love. But did you know that five days later he participated in a Vigil at the White House?

Bishop Michael Curry (C) waits to speak during a vigil outside the White House May 24, 2018 in Washington, DC, in response to what organizers say is “the moral and political crises at the highest levels of political leadership that are putting both the soul of the nation and the integrity of Christian faith at stake.” (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Vigil was a witness that both rejected President Trump’s “America First” policies and urged bringing people of all political parties together for the sake of the common good. The Vigil was a follow-up on a declaration Michael wrote with other faith leaders several months before called “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis.”

That document includes the powerful statement: “We reject domination rather than stewardship of the earth’s resources.”

As we gather together this Sunday in Pittsfield and Worcester for an Episcopal revival led by the “oh so much more than a wedding preacher” Michael Curry, let’s look at why this is a time of crisis for God’s creation.

The Earth is reeling under many pressures, from an explosive growth in human population and consumption to species extinction, habitat loss, and resource depletion.  But our most urgent concern is how human activity is changing the climate.  Our fears were confirmed last week when the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international group that assesses climate change, released a major report.  The IPCC report was stark: humanity is on the brink of catastrophe.  The only way to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degree Celsius – the level that countries around the world have agreed is a safe upper limit for maintaining life as we know it on this planet – is for nations to cut their carbon emissions drastically and rapidly.  In just over ten years – by 2030 – the world will need to have cut global emissions in half (45 percent below 2010 levels).  To hold global temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius will require rapid and massive transformation of every level of society.  For example, the report calls for a total or near-total phase-out of the burning of coal by 2050.

The task ahead of us is daunting.  The world has already warmed 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times, and without a massive global effort, the world will warm by 1.5 degrees in as little as 12 years.  If we allow global warming to rise by 2 degrees Celsius – to say nothing of allowing business as usual to continue on its present track, which would raise global temperatures by 3.4 degrees by the end of this century – we will live on a planet that is extremely difficult not only to govern, but even to inhabit.  The IPCC report warns that there is “no documented historical precedent” for making the sweeping changes in society that would be required in order to hold global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.  Yet if we want to prevent massive crop failures and droughts, extreme storms and sea-level rise, and the migration of millions of refugees, and if we want to pass along a habitable world to our children and our children’s children, we need to tackle climate change.

The day of reckoning has come. As St. Paul exhorts, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2).  Today is a good day to put climate denial behind us.  Today is a good day to reject the climate denial expressed in White House policies that promote fossil fuels and ignore, downplay, or even accelerate the climate crisis.  Today is also a good day to admit our own everyday version of climate denial and to step up our personal efforts to reduce our use of fossil fuels.

What next steps can you take?  For starters, does your congregation have a “green team” or “Creation care committee”?  Whatever you call it, a team of parishioners concerned about climate change can take the lead in educating and organizing its community.  You can download an article about how to start a “green team” here.  At diocesan convention, delegates will vote on a resolution that asks every congregation to create a green team or liaison.

Here’s another idea: how about eating less (or no) meat?  A new report confirms that shifting to a plant-based diet is one of the most effective actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint, limit climate change, and allow the Earth to keep feeding the global population.

Michael Curry has made Creation Care one of his three priorities. (Racial Reconciliation and Evangelism are the others.) We have said many times that this Sunday is so much more than great speeches by Michael. It is an opportunity to commit to a revival of our souls, our church, our communities and our world. In a time of crisis, may we passionately recommit to fighting climate change and caring for God’s creation.

+Doug and Margaret+

It’s time we move from Windsor to Washington

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle after their wedding, May 19, 2018. Ben Birchall—AP Wire; @WhiteHouse.gov

It’s been wonderful watching the world meet our Presiding Bishop. 29 million people heard Michael Curry preach, as only Michael can, on the joyous occasion of a royal marriage. I’ve enjoyed the excitement and the opportunity this event created for evangelism – for reaching out to new seekers who want some of the joy and hope we have found in Jesus. But it’s Monday morning and we’ve got work to do.

It’s time we move from Windsor to Washington, DC where “that guy from the royal wedding” will walk in prayerful vigil to the White House. As a signer of Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis, Presiding Bishop Curry has made it clear that we are about the Gospel of love, solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant and the refugee. Time is up for those who have used the Christian faith as a weapon, co-opted a message of compassion and used it to amputate away parts of the Body of Christ.

As Michael Curry moves from the wedding feast to witness at the center of power, let’s go with him. Let’s read this statement as individuals and in our congregations. Let’s mine it for wisdom and Tweet out the sentences that resonate with our experience of this time. Signing this statement took moral courage.  Let’s celebrate that our Presiding Bishop is more than a great preacher. He is a follower of Jesus and that road will never be easy.

It’s also time to send our children to school unafraid. It’s time for our cities – where children of color fear the walk to and from school – to be safe again from the threat of gun violence. There are too many schools to list, too many names of children who will never know a wedding day. #Parkland is past, and now it’s, #SantaFe. We cannot lose heart even as our hearts break.

On Saturday morning June 2nd I am speaking at the first gathering of a new branch of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence in Worcester. The State Democratic Convention happens to be meeting in Worcester and we have invited them to join us. On Sunday June 3, I will wear an orange stole as a sign that no human being should ever be a target. Wear Orange Weekend starts on June 1st — National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a partner in this effort. We are all weary of the cycle, but it’s more important than ever to stay with the movement, to give one another strength for this witness. Just as we keep returning to Smith and Wesson, we will continue to mark the death of Hadiya Pendleton, a black Chicago teen murdered by gun violence in 2013. Our Presiding Bishop has charged us with racial justice and reconciliation. The epidemic of gun violence highlights the intersectionality of the issues we face.

It’s time to take action on climate change – together. On Wednesday I will join Bishop Alan Gates and the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas at a joint press conference with Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Unprecedented changes to our fragile island home have brought together people of faith and science. Faith and science are the gifts that will enable us to reverse damage done and chart a course that is true to our interconnectedness with earth.

It’s Monday morning, my friends. The party is over and it’s time to get back to the sacred work of Reclaiming Jesus, standing against racism and gun violence, and advocating for the earth.

+Doug

When Pilate was governor and Herod was king…

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog called “Desiring a Christ-Centered Life, Not a Trump-Centered Life.” Apparently it struck a nerve, as I received more responses (mostly positive) than any other blog I have written. I wrote “In a troubled time, the Church is made to call people to be our best selves, to live from God-filled souls, to imagine God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This blog will attempt to explore further what that means.

One of the best theology teachers I ever had is Michael Himes. He taught me at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY, and now teaches at Boston College. Michael once said, “This is the most important line in the entire Bible.”

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness (Luke 3:1-2).

Why is this the most important verse in the Bible? Michael said it shows that our faith is based in reality. Our faith is not based on “Once upon a time…” This is not a fairy tale. It is not an abstraction. Luke goes out of his way to tell us in this time and in this place, “when Tiberius Caesar was in the 15th year of his reign, Pilate was governor, Herod was king… the word of God came to John in the wilderness.”

We, too, have an incarnational faith. We live our transcendent faith in this time and in this place. We listen for the Word of God that comes to us in the wilderness of confusion, in the midst of anxiety and fear.

I have said that our mission is the same as it was before Donald Trump was elected president. It is to follow Jesus in his mission of mercy, compassion and hope. Or, in the words of our Presiding Bishop,

“We are the Jesus Movement that is out to change the world from the nightmare it is for so many into the dream God has for it.”

That has not changed, but because this is not an abstract faith, context matters. What does it look like now to be the Jesus Movement when Donald Trump is President, Charlie Baker is governor and Warren and Markey are senators?

Here is what it has looked like so far. Interfaith gatherings abound. When the nation seems to be coming apart, people of faith are coming together.

When the ERA failed to be ratified, the struggle against gender bias in the workplace and in government continued on the grass-roots level. Now, women are claiming their power and equality in our city streets.

Even as we seem to have forgotten that we are a nation of immigrants, voices cry out for compassion, herald the blessing of diversity and name the Church as sacred space for those who live in fear.

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the hands of one who doubts that human activities impact climate change. The institution established to protect “this fragile earth, our island home,” has been compromised. Yet…

LGBTQ persons continue to experience discrimination in spite of momentous gains. Transgender youth and adults are facing the most invasive assault on their privacy and dignity. But…

In March, 2016, meeting at a time of great political uncertainty, the House of Bishops said “the church is made for times like these.” We need to build on this activity, but do so from a place of deep prayer. The “political” activity of John the Baptist and Jesus is well-documented. Mark 6:17-20 tells the story of John’s arrest after protesting Herod’s marriage. In Luke 13:31-32, Jesus speaks out against Herod – “that fox” who will not stop him from healing and casting out demons. Like John and Jesus, we must walk in the wilderness with God. We are still listening for the Word of God to come to us in this time and in this place.

Long after the reigns of Emperor Tiberius, and Pontius Pilate and Herod and Annas and Caiaphas, Jesus mission of mercy and compassion and hope continued throughout history – beyond good times and bad – and we know it will until God’s Dream for the world is fulfilled.

+Doug