Almost nine years ago, my family showed up on the doorstep of the Church of the Holy Innocents after Dad died. We were lost, but this little church has a way of making a path for everyone. Sundays are always uplifting and inspiring, and the community is one of diversity, kindness, and acceptance.
This past Sunday I went out to NJ just to hear Rev. Anne Bolles-Beaven because I knew she’d be a source of love and light during this rough post-election moment. I’m sharing a link to her sermon here, along with some excerpts.
“Friends, we are all taking [Trump] seriously today.
“We have to speak the truth — even if it’s uncomfortable — as well as offer hospitality and care. As people of God, we have to take seriously rhetoric that was deeply offensive to many of our nation’s vulnerable people. Veiled threats to people of color, open threats to muslims, sexist language and behavior toward women, threatened denial of life to gay and transgender people, verbal threats of deportation to Mexicans and immigrants, the mocking of the disabled, and the denigration of people who we recognize, especially on this Veteran’s Day weekend, as being particularly due, deserving of compassion and respect: prisoners of war and the families of those who gave their life in the service of their country.
“Our failure to speak out in a single, strong voice against words like these and the aggression it can unleash against our neighbors helps spread these ideas, normalize them, and embolden those who hold them. The president-elect must condemn in no uncertain terms those who would use his election as a green light to terrorize and bully.”
“This is not a partisan appeal. This is the gospel. And it claims each of us who calls ourselves Christian, left, right, or center. We are not volunteers being asked for our opinion. We are the body of Christ, and we’re enlisted in a mission not our own. I’m not debating policies. I’m not discussing policies. That’s not my place. That’s not what we’re about here. We are about how we treat people, how we talk about people, or I’m up here wasting my time, and I don’t know why you’re listening.
We’re the body of Christ. We are enlisted in a mission NOT our own. By water and the holy spirit we have been commissioned, we have been given our marching orders. And every veteran here, and every military family member knows what those are. They’re not suggestions, they’re called orders. And we have baptismal ones. Those are to persevere in resisting evil wherever we find it. It’s on both sides, it’s everywhere. We’re to resist it, in whatever form it comes.
“We are to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves, not just the not just the ones with whom it’s the easiest or the ones to whom we’re most drawn. And certainly not just the ones whom we choose. We are to strive for justice and peace among all people. And to respect the dignity of every human being, left, right or center. Black, white, or brown. Muslim, Christian, Jewish. Gay, straight, trans, women, men, children.
“The Anglican tradition is … finding unity in diversity and not letting it tear us apart. We have something to share the world at this time.”
If you have the time, I recommend listening to the whole sermon. There is so much more — it’s funny, it’s urgent, it’s clear-headed and it helped me turn a corner.
When Dad and I debated religion and it’s many forms, he was always clear on one thing: the message of our faith is love. I think the message Rev. Anne has here is not only that it’s about love, but that we are called to act on that. Whether you feel you are bound to that responsibility by your faith or just by your humanity, I think this message will resonate. We need to a) build bridges and understanding and b) be vigilant and brave and call out the bad stuff when we see it, repeatedly. We cannot normalize behaviors we know are wrong by continuing on with our lives as they were.