Rector's Chronicle

Epiphany 2021

Dear Friends, 

I am sure the events of this Epiphany have filled all our hearts and minds with deep sorrow and concern. On top of all the troubles, and civil unrest of last year, this unprecedented action reveals the deep wounds of division within this country and the degree to which our fellow countrymen and women have lost faith and trust in each other. When we cease to be able to talk across divides then those divides harden. The lack of civility that has descended on us goes counter to the spirit of the Via Media that lies at the heart of our Episcopalian and Anglican heritage. 
 
This Epiphany, the difficult birth we celebrate as Christians, the Massacre of the Innocents, and the lonely and hard journey of the Wisemen, remind us that such times may be overwhelming and beyond our experience. They are, however, all too familiar in our world in every age. As an Army chaplain, I have seen cities ruined and the rule of law replaced by the tyranny of petty armed gangs. The dome of the Capitol and the chambers of debate, discussion and law making it contains, is not, however, all that stands between us and the various mobs that rage and break and burn their way towards whatever ends they half knowingly long for. 
 
As Christians, we look to a different narrative; one that is all but hidden in the mire of the stable, and the clamour for power and position of the most wealthy and powerful. It is a narrative that undercuts all our complacency, and our certainty of our own rectitude. It is one that enables us to see past the surface of things to the humanity of those who appall us, and with whom we have grievances we believe critical and legitimate. As our Baptism Covenant requires of us, we have to strive for justice and peace, but also to respect the dignity of every human being. The light that lightens every human being that comes into the world is a light that shines in the eyes of friend and foe alike. That insight should make a difference to us. Christ’s commandment to love one another does not mean we should accept wrongs, but it also does not allow exceptions.
 
Looking forward, as someone who is not American, I still have every hope that this country will get through these troubles, as it has got through much worse in the past. Just as COVID will burn on for a time, our faith in the God who, despite all that we are, took our impossibly frail nature upon him,  gives us real hope that our fellow countrymen and women will find their way back to a more common life. They are, in the end, not so different from us. 

I will end with this excellent prayer our Bishop prayed today:

God of ages, in your sight nations rise and fall and pass through times of peril. Now when our land is troubled, be near to judge and to save.  May leaders be led by your wisdom; may they search for your will and see it clearly. In any ways we have turned from your way, help us to reverse them.. Give us your light and your truth to guide us; through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.

The Reverend Timothy A. R. Cole, Rector