The teaching of the Church.
Dear friends and members of St. Matts,
As Christians, we are called to live out our faith and live by our conscience in the public square. This has been true since the very beginning of the Jesus movement. In fact, at the heart of the movement is the outward facing command to "love our neighbor as ourself." If living out that commandment has been important in your life, there have doubtless been times when you struggled with others, yourself, and the system that we live in. We can't separate our faith and our responsibility as Christians from the world around us. Instead, we have to try to see the world and our neighbors through the lens of our faith, navigating our relationship with God and community while trying to live authentically. This is a tall task. None of us gets it right all the time. And the Episcopal Church is a big, wide tent. We believe profoundly that each person is gifted with an intimate relationship with God - which puts you in the driver's seat of your faith. I can be your companion, your community can support you, but ultimately your faith is your own to navigate. That's why there's a multitude of opinions on any number of things in the church.
Having said all that, as Episcopalians we believe that we are guided by scripture, tradition, and reason. The teachings, or the doctrines of the church, are founded on this traditionally Anglican understanding - that scripture and tradition have much to teach us and that our God-given reason and intellect can continue to help us discern God's will as we live into ever more modern questions.
Some of you have asked me this week about the Episcopal Church's stance on Roe v. Wade. And so, I'd like to take a moment here to point you all in the direction of that answer, again, with the caveat that we are all charged with navigating our own faith and our own conscience. There are two documents that some of you may wish to read: the first is a statement originally made by the Episcopal Church in 1967 and reaffirmed in 1976. The second is a slightly expanded, slightly more nuanced Resolution that was passed at General Convention in 1994 and continues to govern our life together today.
Both of these documents will communicate primarily two things:
- As Episcopalians, we believe in the sanctity of life. We believe that God gives us life and that each person is made in the image of God. We believe in honoring life, cherishing it, and helping all people to experience the fullness of it.
- And the Episcopal Church has taken a strong stance on the fact that a woman has the right to make this and all decisions about her own body. The Episcopal Church is unequivocally opposed to any legislation that would limit a woman's right to make her own informed decision.
This is the teaching of the church. I am grateful for it. In our weekly discussion with our Bishops on Wednesday, our Bishops described this as being "a middle way," and "both pro-life and pro-choice." As they are our chief pastors, I think it's important you hear their voices as well.
I know that this is a difficult, loaded, often triggering subject. And that it is swirling around us right now. I know that for some, this will feel a weightier, more personal issue. I know that some of you are hurting. So, please, if you need someone to talk to, if you have questions, I can be available to sit and talk, to meet on Zoom, or just for a phone call. Please don't hesitate to be in touch.
I hope you'll read through the two links above and spend some time thinking and praying about this if you haven't already. Or even if you have. Whether you have strong feelings or you don't know what to do or how you feel, you can take all of that to God in prayer. And if I can be a companion, I'll be glad to do that. We are all called by our faith to engage in important conversation, and to actively love and serve our neighbor, to be mindful of our neighbor's needs in the ways that we live, work, vote, and pray.
These are difficult days for so many reasons. And joyful days, too, as the year begins to conclude there are many reasons to celebrate. I hope you will continue in this Easter season to see the world through the lens of your faith. And that you will always make that commandment, to love your neighbor, a central part of your life. God loves you. And so do I.
Tags: Adult Formation