In this week’s video update, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe reflects on our call to be faithful, curious learners. We don’t know everything and we aren’t always right, yet God invites us into deeper understanding and deeper love for God, one another, and all creation.
Each of the bishop’s weekly video messages will be posted on the diocesan Facebook page and on the homepage of the diocesan website (scroll down to News & Updates). We will also distribute the message by direct email to clergy, wardens, and parish offices, and include it in the Messenger, our weekly email newsletter.
Greetings, friends. This week I’ve been thinking a lot about learning. Our mission statement, “Learning to love God, one another, and all God’s creation,” is a daring one. To learn is to understand that we don’t know everything, which is contrary to how we are as humans. We revel in our ability to know, that our opinion is “right,” and that “God agrees with us,” whatever our opinion may be.
To have a mission statement to learn to love God and one another is to seek to know more than we do and that involves trust and safety. Right now, so few of us feel safe or that this world is an environment in which we can feel trust. Overwhelmed, fatigued maybe. Definitely sleep-deprived. But trust? Safety? No.
And so we must seek to look harder at what God is calling us to do. God has called us to learn to love God. To learn to love our neighbors as ourselves. To love all that God has created and to be good stewards of all our resources. To respond to God’s grace with generosity and kindness and an openness and a curiosity to know more.
Proverbs 3:5 says “Lean not unto your own understanding,” but to lean into God’s understanding. God has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves, which goes far beyond just a mere kindness. To love as Christ loved, on the cross and the grave and the resurrection, is to sacrifice. To be willing to lay down our benefit for the benefit of another. That kind of learning requires that we have faith and confidence and trust in something greater than this moment.
Each time I visit a church, I close with a blessing. And the first thing I say is, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” You and I love God. You and I have taken vows to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to work for justice and peace among all people, and to flee evil. To renounce evil in our midst. What a daring thing to have taken vows to do.
Our help truly is in the name of the Lord. And when we’re feeling fatigued and when we’re certainly feeling overwhelmed and tired, this is the very time to practice our vows. To love ourselves by sleeping a bit more and doing fun things and laughing. And to look for ways to serve others and to be kind. To use kind words instead of harsh words. To embrace, in the ways we can embrace. So many of us long for a big hug from that friend. What about a phone call? What about an offering?
There is so much we can do in this time if we will only draw closer to God’s ways. To lean not into our own fear and understanding and worry but to open our hearts with curiosity and believe God. Love. Serve. Seek. Go.
Be blessed, dear friends.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York