Q. Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
A. I will with God's help.
It is a promise we make as part of our baptismal covenant and then spend our lives living up to -- knowing that it is only with God's help that our work and our words will truly proclaim the Good News of God in Christ. So what is the word and example being proclaimed by the recent actions of the Episcopal congregations making news in Virginia?
Here's a sample:
From today's Washington Post -- Episcopalians Against Equality: The founders of the church believed, within the context of their time, that all men were created equal. Today's defectors have thought it over in the context of our own time, and decided that they're not.
From Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" -- Treating gays like they were human has prompted eight parishes to split from the Episcopal Church.
From an editorial in the Falls Church News-Press: If this week’s vote results in the departure of Falls Church Episcopal from the Episcopal denomination, the church will go down in infamy as a regrettable and despised bastion of bigotry, prejudice and hatred.
And then from the Presiding Bishop's office? We regret and grieve their departure, and pray that they may continue their journey as Christians in another home. In the hope that some may decide to return, we intend to keep the door open and the light on.
"Choose this day" indeed! Our task in these waning days of Advent is to focus our energy, our attention and our message on the light coming into the world once again in the miracle of the birth of our Lord and Savior.
I think it grieves the heart of God in this week before Christmas there are congregations choosing the bias and bigotry represented by doctrines of exclusion over the "Peace on Earth, Good Will to All" incarnated by the baby in Bethlehem."
And I believe our call is to strive for that peace on earth that has so far eluded us as we reach out to "the least of these" among us wherever they may be. In so doing we are proclaiming by word ... and example ... the Good News we have been given to proclaim in the name of the One whose birth we will celebrate on that "O Holy Night" looming "O-so-soon-to-come."
May our prayers rise as incense and may God give us the grace to continue to walk in love with God and with each other as we complete our Advent journey and welcome again the Christ Child into our hearts. And may the witness of love and inclusion we offer be the message we send to the world in such desperate need for it -- an antidote to the word and example so sadly offered by the actions in Virginia.