Greetings Beloved St. Georgians,
As the new calendar year approaches, it is a time when many people make (or talk about making) resolutions. It makes we wonder about our parish’s hopes and dreams for the coming year.
As I write, my news sources are flooded with reports coming out of Cleveland, Ohio. A grand jury has decided not to indict the officers who shot and killed an African-American boy, Tamir Rice, last year. If you are not familiar with this case, I encourage you learn more. My response to this news has been deep sadness and frustration. I am not in a position to pass judgment on these officers. We, as the church, though are in a position to bear witness to the suffering this case evokes and the fact that the world needs healing and reconciliation. When I hear the details of the Tamir Rice case, there are so many moments where someone could have said, “stop.” There are so many moments where people failed to see or hear each other, and it resulted in a child’s life lost and countless other lives damaged. This is, of course, one of many cases like this in recent times. Our nation is in the midst of a renewed, intense conversation about race, violence, and inequality. We know something is very wrong, but we cannot agree on what “it” is or how to respond.
This brings me back to New Year’s resolutions. We began the program year in September with the question/exclamation: “How in God’s name do we live together?!” As we begin a new calendar year, we can resolve to continue that conversation. We may or may not be in a position to right the wrongs in Cleveland or Chicago or the next place where situations like the Tamir Rice or Laquan McDonald cases may occur. We are in a position to do everything we can to create a compassionate community here in Fredericksburg. Living together, in God’s name, means knowing our neighbors, valuing each other’s gifts, and listening to each other’s stories. It means engaging in the patient work of being together without trying to fix each other. This will be the work of our upcoming Compassionate Community weekend with Natalie Finstad (February 5-7). This theme will connect with our exploration of Christian faith in the upcoming Pilgrim’s classes (maybe your New Year’s resolution is to be baptized, confirmed or received or just to renew learning about your faith). I know there will be many other ways that we will engage this resolution to live together in God’s name.
No matter how we respond personally to the news of a troubled world, I invite us all to respond as one body to the Good News that in Christ we are all called to freedom and new life. May 2016 be a year in which we come together to explore our calling in ways that make a difference. As always, please continue to pray for peace and wholeness in a fractured world, with God’s help.
Your brother in Christ,