Habits of Grace, April 13, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry
As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’ A new meditation will be posted on Mondays through May. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.
April 13, 2020: All Belong in this Family of God
It looks like the storm has passed over and the sun has come out, at least for a little bit. It is the day after, if you will. Monday in Easter week, Jesus has been raised from the dead. The miracle has happened. Hallelujah, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. When I served as a priest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina back in the 1970s, I learned about a custom that was old and venerable, that was part of the tradition of the Moravian community, of which there was a large settlement there in Winston-Salem. In old Salem, near the Salem church, near God's Acre, the Moravian cemetery there, early on the morning, before the sun rises, the Moravian community and other friends and well-wishers gather on Easter Sunday morning before the sun comes up. And there is the Easter sunrise service.
It begins with these words, “The Lord is risen. All hail, all hail, victorious Lord and Savior, thou hast burst the bonds of death,” and the music begins and the congregation processes from the church to the cemetery, to God's Acre. And when you see the Moravian cemetery, there are no mausoleums. There's no differentiation. They're dignified headstones, like in a military cemetery. Everyone has the same headstone with their name and information on it, but there is no differentiation, for the cemetery itself is a reminder of our equality before all mighty God who created us all.
Not many hours before Jesus sacrificed his life, and just a few days before he was raised from the dead, he said this to his gathered disciples, "Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be driven out, and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself". God came among us in the person of Jesus to reconcile us with God and to reconcile us with each other. To help us and to show us the way to become the human family of God and to show us that, that is God's mission. That is God's dream and that is God's intention, and Easter is a reminder that together with our help and support, God's will, will be done.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu some years ago said this about that quote:
"God sent us here to help God realize God's dream of a new world and society, gentle, caring, compassionate, sharing.” ‘When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself’, God says. “Please help me to draw all.”
For there are no outsiders or aliens. All are insiders, all belong, black and white. Rich and poor. Young and old, male and female, educated, uneducated, gay, lesbian, straight, all belong in this family of God. This human family, the rainbow people of God, and God has no-one but you, and you, and you and me to help God realize God's dream.”*
Hallelujah. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Amen.
*Quoted in “The prodigal God”, in God at 2000, edited by Marcus Borg and Ross Mackenzie, Morehouse Publishing (2002). Used with permission.