Watch below: Following the Inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Bishop Duncan-Probe of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York calls upon the people of the Diocese to seek unity through our shared vision of “a world healed by love.”
There is no doubt that this last year or more we have been through it. For some of us yesterday was a triumphal event: an opportunity to feel better and to think that all is well now. For some of us, yesterday was a devastating time, a day of sorrow, feeling that all will be far worse.
When I was growing up, when I was about 8 or 9, I was staying with my grandmother and I remember this big storm going through: thunder and lightning and wind and rain beating against the windows. And as I tried to sleep in the other room I became more and more worried about the wind blowing and the thunder and the lightning, until when there was a particularly loud clap of thunder, I jumped up and, I’m sure, screamed. And my grandmother came in and in her loving, kind, and pastoral way she said, “Stop it! Get ahold of yourself. You’re letting yourself get carried away by your fear.”
Those are pretty good words for right now. And they are pastoral. We need to stop letting fear carry us away.
We need to remember who we are and what we’re about. And whether we feel good or sorrowful, to know that God is God, and we know who we are.
Over the last year I have been increasingly concerned about the rhetoric, the lack of civility, lies, the inability to tell the truth… We know better.
In the Diocese of Central New York we have made a Rule of Life and have taken vows: to work for the dignity of all people, to seek justice. We pray, listen, connect with others, share stories, speak the truth, and then respond with love and compassion. Nowhere in our Rule of Life, Mission Statement, or Vision Statement is there room to allow fear to carry us away.
The time for harsh words and demagoguery and divisiveness and dehumanization must stop. We need to utilize media and all the things at our disposal to build up people, not tear down anymore. To disassociate ourselves from practices where we’re calling people names or denigrating them. We have real issues and real needs in our nation, and it is time to come together and be about the Kingdom of God in our midst, and to be good civil partners with those around us: caring for one another, listening with compassion. And knowing that while we may disagree about economics or any number of things, we need not devalue ourselves and others by name-calling.
It is time to change. It is time to stop.
It is time to remember who we are, and not allow fear to carry us away. With sincere and listening hearts to look at the world around us and seek to be part of building up, not tearing down. Speaking truth in love, not harsh criticism. And to be honest about the things where we disagree, but to disagree in a way where both people are valued, and honored, and respected.
I hope that whatever you feel in this time, you know most of all that you are loved by God, and that you are a valued part of this Diocese and our shared ministry.
We have good news for this time. We’re seeking a world healed by the love of God, and we are ambassadors of that love.
Blessings to you in this time. Let us proclaim God’s love to our hurting world.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York