Sunday, May 16, 2010

"The strife is o'er"

It's one of my favorite Easter hymns:
The strife is o'er, the battle done;
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun:

The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed;
let shouts of holy joy outburst:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
We sing of love's triumph over death on Easter morning not out of ignorance about the very real pain that death, disease, violence and oppression bring but out of faith in the Easter promise that NOTHING is stronger than the love of God.

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

I sang that hymn in my head over and over yesterday in Long Beach as the Diocese of Los Angeles -- my diocesan "family of origin" -- helped the Episcopal Church take another step forward on the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments with the ordinations of Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Douglas Glasspool as the 1044th and 1045th bishops in it's 221 year history.

I sang "The strife is o'er" not out of ignorance about the struggle ahead. I read the blogs. I get the press releases. I walked past the pickets outside the Long Beach Arena. I cringed as the angry protesters screamed at us at the beginning of the service yesterday.

I didn't sing out of ignorance -- I sang out of the sure and certain knowledge that God's love is stronger than all the fear, division, ignorance and bigotry the world can throw at us.

I sang out of the confidence that power behind us IS greater than the challenge ahead of us when that power is the power of the abundant love of God.

I sang out of faith that the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep in the Easter that trumped Good Friday is leading us forward into God's future -- a future beyond schism and division, beyond pain and polemic.

I sang out of hope that the steps we took Saturday in the Diocese of Los Angeles would be a beacon of light and life to all who are looking for signs of God's love, peace, justice and compassion.

And I sang remembering how far we have come as a church that resolved in 1976 to offer to its gay and lesbian members "full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church." There is SO much to rejoice and be glad in even as la lucha continua -- the struggle goes on -- to make that resolution a reality in every part of this great church of ours.

The struggle goes on. But the strife is o'er.

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.



PS -- For everyone who's asked, photos are coming soon ... just been to busy to download and upload!

Terri said...

awesome! I wish I had been there, for it is days like this that remind me that the church is not stuck and static but has actually grown a bit...

Muthah+ said...

Thanks for sharing your heart. Si, la lucha continua. But it HAS been satisfying to see some of the fruit of our labors. Thank you, Susan. It has been your on-going, dogged, often-thankless work that has helped make this happen. And it is so wonderful when we know that we have done it with God's grace.

SCG said...

Can't wait to see the photos!
"The strife is o'er" is one of my long-time favorite hymns. And it is quite fitting, isn't it, for all you were experiencing?

There is a verse in "Christ is Alive" that speaks to those who wish to churn turmoil where there is no need for it:
"In every insult, rift, or war
where color, scorn, or wealth divide
he suffers still, yet loves the more
and lives, though ever crucified"

My congratulations and blessing to all of you in LA. You show and live the greatest Love, and give those of us far away hope for the future!

JCF said...

Amen and amen! TBTG! :-D

Pfalz prophet said...

San Rocco, Hymn 603, still chokes me up at verses 3 & 4:
Where generation, class or race
Divide us to our shame,
he sees not labels but a face,
a person, and a name.

Thus freely loved, though fully known,
may I in Christ be free
to welcome and accept his own
as Christ accepted me.

Our chapter streamed the service. Loved its stateliness and grace, especially loved ++Katherine's patience with and respect for the protesters.

Finally, Susan, what Muthah+ said. We would not be here without your tenacity and love-inspired activism.

MarkBrunson said...


We use the "Alleluia" refrain for the Easter Alleluias before and after the gospel reading. I feel it very appropriate for these bishops, as well!