Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sheer, Awesome Radiance

I know this has been around for a while- among other places on Susan+ Russell's 'An Inch at a Time' under the 2006 General Convention Archive. I however, only had the great joy of reading this mighty sermon for the first, second and third times this week and believe Bishop Charleston's insightful witness bears repeating in these trying times.

Of course, what I am referring to is the sermon Bishop Steven Charleston preached at the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church of America, 'What Witness Will We Make?'

Among other things, this living blessing to the Church said

... the most important question before us is not about
schism or sexuality. It is about wirness. What witness will we

Christian witness is the publiic affirmation of faith. It
is how we let the world see that we practice what we preach. Today those of us
in the Episcopal Church are being called on to make our witness. We have the
opportunity to be what we say we are. The world is watching. What will we

In the Episcopal Church, we believe in Jesus Christ. We
believe in the Bible. We believe in the Good News. In fact, we believe so
strongly in all of these essential parts of our shared faith that we are not
afraid to disagree with one another about what they mean to us.

We welcome difference as the active presence of God's Holy
Spirit moving amongst us. Our witness is not to conformity but to community. As
the Episcopal Church we are not concerned that everyone in the pews
believes exactly the same thing, in the same way, at the same time. Instead, we
are concerned that no one is left out of those pews because of what they
believe, who they are, or where they come from.

Our witness is to the unconditional love of God through
the grace of Christ Jesus. Therefore we accept the risk of grace by not setting
limits to love with our own judgements of others. There are no border guards at
the doors of the Episcopal Church. We respect the dignity of every human being
and are never ashamed of who sits next to us in worship. We are all children of
God just as we are all sinners in need of mercy.

There are no walls around the Episcopal Church. We believe
that God is at work in the world. We are not concerned that this world sees us
as perfect, pure or powerful. Instead, we are concerned that people see us
practicing justice, doing mercy, and walking humbly with the God we believe
loves us all equally.

Our witness is to hope, not fear. We believe that men and
women, no matter how separated they may think they are by religious conviction,
cultural value, or social location are never truly apart unless they choose to
be. We have nothing to fear from one another unless we allow fear to be our

... Our witness is to the reconcilliation of God in a time
of fear. In the Episcopal Church, we stand together not even if we
disagree, but precisely because we disagree. We practice the radical hope of

...You and I need one another now more than ever because
there are so many others who need us both in this hurting world... For them, our
witness is not a matter of church politics. It is a matter of life and

My spirit literally soared when I read Bishop Charleston's sermon, as you might have guessed from how much of it I have transcribed here. This radiant brother in Christ is President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge Ma. and all I can say is Thank God for this living blessing in these trying times!

This is a Christianity, with God's grace, I can live for!

I can only imagine the joy and wonder the delegates experienced while listening to this man preach at the General Convention. Probably something akin to my experience on July 27, 2006 when I was truly blessed to hear another precious brother +Gene Robinson preach twice in one day, here in Montreal.

God's Greatest Blessing for God's Greatest Glory- always, unconditionally


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