Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
Welcome to 2022. An all-new year, all new opportunities has unfolded. What is true about the turn of the year is quite frankly true about the gift of every new day. The reality that each year and each day places before us a fresh opportunity to become more fully who God intends for us to be does not at all signify that we are without challenges. It makes me ponder whether or not our challenges are in fact our opportunities. How we lean into our challenges can make all the difference in the quality of our lives.
Speaking of challenge our continued wrestling with the ominous presence of COVID-19 and its variants has become so defining of our lives. The last two years have called forth the meaning of perseverance in ways that we may not have known before. All of us know what it means to persevere through personal challenge or difficulty. This long season of living with multiple pandemics have called and will continue to call forth our capacity to learn to persevere together. It is ultimately in the together that the quality of our perseverance is measured.
Speaking of together, we have and will continue to be challenged on finding common ground in church and society. Consider just the stresses and tensions we live with, multiple times a day, about best practices related to COVID like vaccines and masking to name a few. We are still falling short of sufficient agreement to keep from tearing ourselves apart. Or consider the fractures and fissures in our civic life, long suspected but confirmed by the violent insurrection on January 6 at the Nation’s Capitol. It occurring on the Epiphany of Our Lord is not lost on me. On the liturgical date -Epiphany- when large parts of the Christian communion were paying close attention to the revealing of our God in Jesus of Nazareth, we were given another revelation about the depth of the brokenness of our common life. There is Epiphany and there are epiphanies all along the way. They are not the same. They are not equal. The question is when light shines on a reality how we will respond?
And speaking of response, I close inviting you to join me in a grateful and joyful remembrance of God’s servant, Desmond Mpilo Tutu, baptized a Methodist, confirmed an Anglican. He was teacher, friend, husband, father, grandfather, prophet, priest, pastor and bishop. Who in the face of the challenge and cruelty of Apartheid resisted its injustice but never the relationships needed to build a new society. He valued truthful speech and confrontation but eschewed violence. He actually lived as if broken humanity could be redeemed and reconciled. He embodied that “there is no future without forgiveness.” This is the work all of us who know, love and call the name of Jesus, are called to do in our time and place. Let’s have at it without reserve.
† Bishop Gregory V. Palmer