Saturday, November 17, 2018

2018 Convention Eucharist. Sermon

Good Shepherd, always beside us; your rod and staff our comfort, your cross ever before us as our guide. Loving Shepherd, may I sing your praise within your house forever.

I would like to thank each of you for your faithfulness, ministry, hope, and love. Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, all of the diocesan committees, the Cathedral Staff and volunteers, each of your ministries in the churches, the clergy, the faithful laity, and of course your staff of the diocese.  I am blessed by you.

My gratitude for allowing me to walk with you and serve you as your Bishop. There is a Spanish phrase. Me encanta la Iglesia.  I love the church. I love our church, this beautiful body of Christ from the depths of my heart.  This address is about the heart.  

At Lambeth Anglicans from across the world shared ministries, opportunities, and hope as the Gospel is being lived in Africa, Hong Kong, South India, Latin America.  I shared our sacred ministries and how we are stepping forward in faith, into a field that is cultivated, nourished and sown.  A beautiful spectrum of Christians.  Heart to heart. No divisions or arguments.

Nor the old refrains of money or fear. In that room, I felt a oneness with them and Christ.  In Bible symbolism, the heart is the eye of the body.  Notice, we often discount the heart. The world attempts to confine the Church even God in our head.  To define, rationalize or control.  Yet we know there are things only the heart can comprehend.

I represented our Church at the Canonization of Oscar Romero. At the Vatican, Anglican Bishops were embraced and seated less than 20 feet from the Pope.  Being present for St. Romero, standing near the bones of the Apostles caused tears to well.  The Pope, I found a servant and holiness.  I looked out onto St. Peter’s Square, past the Royalty, politicians, and Cardinals and focused on the tens of thousands of people.

God’s creation from every race and status were gathered.  This is the universal church.  We were rejoicing and praying together.   Only the heart can comprehend. The tears flowed.   I held you present.  I was one with them, and they were one with you. I prayed for you, my beloved diocese.  I prayed for the words to say at this convention. 

How to express the glorious hope found in this place and our common life over the past 2 1/2 years. How do I speak heart to heart? I did not sleep and bounded to church the next morning.   On the way, I looked into the eyes of a man begging, and he smiled at me.  Are these the words Lord? I entered a church designed by Michelangelo and built on the ancient Roman Baths. 

Majestic art, soaring domes and magnificent light.  Yet, an emphasis on science.  A large meridian line running down the center commissioned in 1700 by the Pope to check the accuracy of the Gregorian Calendar.  Sundials, calculations, and equations. Matters of the head. 

I want the heart.  I asked aloud - really Lord? I turned, and a ray of light illuminated a pendulum.

I walked over and read the sign explaining Galileo’s discovery.  As a boy, he was fascinated with time.  He tied a stone to the length of a string, affixed the string to wood, fastened and pushed.   He noted the regularity of the oscillations.  He built the pendulum to beat like his heart.  The wording concluded  “And so, starting from his heartbeat - the heart as a measure of time.

Galilei opened up new horizons for humanity.”   A Stone transformed into a heart. I shouted, “yes, Lord.” The mind attempts to explain, but only the heart can comprehend.  This is the new horizon in this diocese.  Hearts pulsing with God, one another and the world.  

Our Gospel verse is the ending of the beatitudes Jesus is giving us the direction, courage, and heart to live them out.  The path to finding the way.  To step forward and follow him.  We live in a changing world and the Church of the 20th century is becoming the distant past.  For many this is frightening. We also know we cannot go back to the way things were.  

A blessed opportunity. 

For the salt to regain, it’s taste, a light to shine upon the world.   Our church is alive and hopeful.  We are called to the heart of Jesus Christ.  What does this mean? To risk everything on Jesus, the willingness to keep growing, the courage to be innovative, the readiness to risk failure, the openness to trust.  

To move from our heads into our hearts.  

There are millions who are not in church, the field is ripe.  The faith to abandon previous behaviors, actions and beliefs that we know are unhealthy and destructive to the body.  Emptying ourselves and be filled with God. Holy Transformation with hearts beating as one.  

Being called to the heart of Jesus is our collective call to holiness.  
Bishop, clergy, laity - and the church.  Individually - how we live as people and how we live with one another.   Corporately as a church - our words, presence, and actions. Universally - how we respond to the world.  We must search within and transform whatever is holding us back.  Morally, physically and spiritually.

Anything that is keeping us from grasping the hand of the Holy One and being led by him.  This is a narrow holy door, but he is calling.   Our life together with the world cannot be apart from a deep faith and rootedness in Jesus Christ. We must spend time with God, real-time, with God. Prayer cannot be something we do, it must be something we are.  

As naturally as breathing.  Remember the first time you encountered Jesus.  When you felt His gaze and his presence.  If we do nothing else, remember that moment and every moment, and everything we do shall glorify the Lord.  Don’t be intimidated by holiness.  It is found in the simple, everyday actions and interactions.  

Small gestures are always holy through the love of Jesus. When was the last time we got down on our knees by the side of our bed and prayed like a child?  Remembering where it began will help us figure out where it ends.  I ask that we not lock God in our head.  To explain, break down, make our point, win an argument or control.  We pick apart the living word until our minds are exhausted. 

We often miss the meaning of the Gospel by 18 inches - from the head to the heart.  Hold the Holy Mystery.  Let’s reclaim reverence. Prayer, forgiveness, hope, grace, trust, community - love; things only the heart can comprehend.  This is what differentiates us from every other institution out in the world. 

Let us cease treating the church merely as a place of business, or transactions  - it is the living body of Christ.  If God is only a part-time thought amid the structure and bureaucracy and we are so worried about  Statistics and money that we forget God, no wonder we are anxious and worry.  The spread of Christianity was by fascination, holiness, and faith.  A different life in Christ. 

We face the same obstacles and opportunities that have faced Christians for over 2000 years.  Faced this diocese in the 1700’s,   The heart of Christ beats with hope and let us show the world Christ.   Let’s turn each act of this diocese into a living prayer because your lives make it holy.  

We hold the only message that can give people what their hearts need most, which is hope.

People are fascinated by this Jesus, let’s proclaim Him. Then let’s go further.  Let us create a place not only of welcoming of belonging. For every person, regardless of color, race, social condition or economic status.  There should be no minorities or differences in the church.

Through evangelism, outreach and mission let us show the world that the living body of Christ has not forgotten them.   The world seems to tire of the words of a church that does not represent a better life a transformational life.  If we are not working in the fields, neighborhoods and the world, then we are not the church.  

A ministry of presence, the living mystery of Christ.  Maybe we should call evangelism, mission, and outreach our life of sacred presence in the world.  If we are not addressing the pain in the world through mission or holy presence, we are not the church. If we are not the church, then our heart is not beating, and that salt will never regain its flavor. 

Let Jesus disturb our hearts. They should break if one person is poor, is one child is hungry, if violence overtakes our community if a person is suffering, homeless, if racism, classism, sexism, or any ism exists.  We must be a place that addresses violence, such as gun violence and the murders in Pittsburgh and across this country.  We must be a place of belonging and peace. 

There is growing xenophobia and a climate of hate, we must be the voice against hate.  We must also call out hate language and xenophobic, misogynistic rhetoric of any person or institution we encounter.  The living body of Christ has the responsibility to name bigotry as a sin. Let our hearts have the courage of Christ.   We cannot just call people to church.

We must go to them.  We cannot be a church that stays still.  If we remain locked within our walls, we will suffocate. The church grows, only when it goes. Let us go to the frontiers of poverty and exclusion.  Go to those who feel they are the furthest from God.  Leave no one behind. If they don’t come to church, we must go to them.  

As part of continuing diocesan journey of “remembering” ourselves as the Body of Christ, we must strengthen our bonds to one another.  We cannot serve, forgive, reconcile, heal, and love the world unless we do so with one another.  If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. Let us continue to walk the path of reconciliation and heal. Let us into love. 

Let us strengthen our bonds to the broader church. Each of you is part of your church, your church is part of this diocese, this diocese is part of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion. There is something powerful and holy sitting with our sisters and brothers at General Convention or throughout the communion.  

We are not alone, we are one, and we find strength acting as a body. Independence is a value of our culture, but it is not a gospel value.  As your Bishop, I am called deeper in prayer and holiness.   My call is to be a Pastor to the clergy and a Shepherd to the laity. I am firm in the belief that a shepherd should smell like the sheep.  Each day I seek to be with you.

Each meeting, visitation, I look into your eyes and see hope, faith, and I see Christ. I am your servant.  This call is not about me, it is about you, God and how the world sees Christ through our journey together.   To labor together in the field, nurture and plant the seeds.  You have helped me learn to become a Bishop.  

As a shepherd, I have learned that a shepherd at times leads but also a shepherd walks in the middle with you and walks behind gently guiding, always watching, toward a place of nourishment and fulfillment. It is a humility that is deepening and a commitment that emphasizes you, collaboration, journeying as a flock following the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ.

This is your diocese.  This is our diocese.  This is God’s church.

I will make mistakes, I have made mistakes, but they will never be for self.  I will always ask for forgiveness and then transform.  As I stated previously, there are other Bishop’s who know more than I ever will, know I will be faithful. There will never be another Bishop who loves you as I love you. It is essential that you know that your Bishop passionately believes in our Lord.

I love God with all my mind, heart and soul.  My deepest urging that intensifies daily is to be intimately united with him so that I can experience in the depth of my being, the great love of God;  so that I can allow His life to become my life.  For my beloved Priests and Deacon’s let’s revive again and again our sacred calling.  

For the laity, let’s empower you to be the new Apostles of the 21st century. I also invite you to listen for the heartbeat of God and fall in love with Christ.  Trusting that the heart will comprehend.  Hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. 

I leave you with this imagery described in a reflection (1):   If you place two heart cells from different people in a Petrie dish, they will find time and maintain a third and common beat. 

This inborn ability to find and enliven a common beat is the miracle of love.  For if two cells can find the common pulse beneath everything, how much more can full hearts feel when all excuses fall away? Yet we often tire ourselves by fighting how our hearts want to join, seldom realizing that both strength and peace come from our hearts beating in unison with one another. 

It feels incredibly uplifting that without even knowing each other, there exists a common beat between all hearts, just waiting to be felt.  I would like you to take a moment and look at the person next to you.  In their face I want you to see the church, the heartbeat of our Lord, the face of Christ. This is the church.  This is who we are - connected.  

A light led me to a sign that said Galileo with a stone transformed it into a heartbeat and it opened new horizons for time and humanity.  Let our faith and diocesan heartbeat open greater horizons in Jesus Christ.  Our hearts are not stone, no they are flesh, molded in love that reflects a beautiful light in a darkened world. Let draw near and be the heartbeat of Christ. 

Miracles will occur. For the brave heart is not discouraged, the hopeful heart that makes the best of all things.  What are we waiting for?  Pull close to the heart of Christ Let us turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.  The world is waiting. I am confident that Christ the Good Shepherd will answer our prayers and bless our work. Let us go forth, with a new spirit and offer the life and heart of Jesus Christ. There are things only the heart can comprehend.

Book of Awakening. Nepo

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Pastoral Letter on the Tree of Life Synagogue murders

A letter from the Right Reverend Daniel G P Gutiérrez, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In a holy sanctuary, less than five hours from our beloved diocese, families walked into the Tree of Life synagogue for a Shabbat service. Women, men and children beginning their sacred service with prayers of gratitude for life. A man filled with hate and rage, encouraged by a society that seems to worship at the altar of hate and violence, walked in and proceeded to slay the innocent. As he shouted, "all Jews must die," eleven beautiful children of a loving God were slaughtered because of hate. Many others, including first responders, were also grievously injured in this attack. Do not be misled, this is hate.
As a culture we normalize violence, we rationalize explanations, we chant political slogans, and we then forget that these words have repercussions. Pray, we must, but we cannot proclaim the resolve of our prayers or the determination of our efforts if we are not willing to live the same.
We must tire of being tired; we must transform anger that merely manifests itself on social media. Our Lord is all-powerful, and yet we cannot turn away our sight or our lives to avoid the sight of the slaughter.
We must address this in our own diocese.
There is a sickness that is overtaking our society. And we know that only by standing by the foot of the cross can we see the hope of the resurrection. My brothers and sisters, the blood of Christ is falling upon our heads. We can no longer sit idly nor give in to rage. After our tears have been expended, let us rise to action.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called his followers to a different kind of life. A life that understands that the condition of the heart is a precursor to our actions in this world. Just as we can borrow one another's faith and bear one another's burdens, we can seek change and "approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Outrage at the sin of others not followed by action in our own lives is the counterfeit gospel of our modern time. Let us cry out to God to stir up within us amendment of life, energy for holy action, and the courage to make a difference. The courage to risk at the cost of our own lives.
I invite each of our 134 churches in the Diocese of Pennsylvania to devote the first Sunday in November to preaching, teaching, and sharing on the violence in the community. This includes congregational discussions on methods to address violence through the lens of Jesus Christ.
I ask that over the next two months, each congregation invite leaders of either the Jewish and Muslim communities to address hate within their own specific context. More importantly, how we as members of the three Abrahamic faith traditions collectively join to address the sin of violence.
I will ask that our Diocesan Convention prioritize by resolution the resolve of this Diocese to fund anti-violence initiatives for congregations within our Diocese of Pennsylvania.
At the same convention, I ask for a resolution designating the Diocese of Pennsylvania as a place of peace. For those seeking peace within our community, they will find a place of solace and safety within all our congregations without regard of religion, status, or affiliation.
To the Jewish communities across the world - we share your pain, and we offer our love. To all those who suffer from violence around the world - in Jewish communities, Muslim communities, minority communities, we will carry your pain with you. Today, be it known that death will no longer reign supreme - let our lives and life in Jesus Christ show the way.
I close with a reading from Daniel:
"Listen as I plead for your desolate sanctuary. Lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair as our city lies in ruins. We make this plea not because we deserve help but because of your mercy. O Lord, hear, forgive and act. For your own sake, do not delay." (9-10)
Let our church be the voice, the hands, and the feet of Jesus Christ.
In peace,

The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

Thursday, October 25, 2018

We will vote. The Cross or Empire?

In two weeks, the citizens of our country will be given the opportunity to vote.  We are asked to engage in a sacred act that will express our individual thoughts, hopes, and aspirations.  This is a declaration of who we are and will determine who we are to become as a nation.  It is a privilege and a gift that we have cherished for more than 200 years and is a gift unavailable to many throughout the world.  We should not let this opportunity pass us by. As Christians, we are called by Jesus Christ to live our faith and place that sacred following before any other identity or allegiance. 

As followers of Jesus Christ we are faced with stark choices.  We must align the Gospel with our public witness and democratic rights. This is not a political statement. It is not an endorsement of any candidate or party.  Jesus compels a choice: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23).

I ask that you join me and compare the words, messaging and statements of the candidates and leaders and determine if they align with scripture and the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Begin with the Genesis and the remembrance that every person is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). The acknowledgment that we are the keeper of our brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9). Consider Deuteronomy, that God loves the orphan, the widow, and the stranger (10:17-19) and The Lord is the maker of both rich and poor (Proverbs 22:2).

Our faith is grounded in the mystery of the Word that became flesh.  Jesus was born into poverty, lived under the oppressive rule of an empire, and then lived and taught among the forgotten, the lost and the broken.  We cannot deny that there is an inseparable bond between Jesus and the poor and the sick.  When people were hungry, his words were clear “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37). Jesus held every human being so sacred that he even broke with societal and religious customs to honor the dignity of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42).

Jesus did not harm, isolate or abandon any person he encountered. Those that left his side or his teachings did so by their own choice.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  His life, death and resurrection provide liberation, hope and the promise of a new Kingdom for the successful business person, the immigrant who serves our meals, the teachers who give of their lives and the addicted who feel despair. As Christians in a democratic society this should be our guiding principle.  There are no exceptions or rationalizations. 

As Christians, we must discern prayerfully and reject any policy that exploits, excludes, oppresses, marginalizes, or is unjust. We are called to exemplify the way of Jesus Christ.  We are not merely dealing with structures, politics or policies. Each institution and system is comprised of sisters and brothers that share in our common journey and humanity.  There are no differences unless we create differences.  Thus, it should afflict the heart of every Christian if just one person suffers or is marginalized.  It should cause us pain if one child lives in poverty, if a woman is abused. If one person is rejected because of who they love, or we create a society where one person is treated unjustly because of the color of their skin.  The basis of our moral thought and belief is the inherent and God-given dignity of every human being.  

I will be remiss if we do not challenge the church.  The church is the living body of Christ.  No longer must we be satisfied with the status quo.  We must redouble our efforts to live as Christ lived.  So open wide the doors of our sanctuaries. Step out courageously into the world to liberate the poor, tend to the sick, feed the hungry, draw close to the lonely, comfort the hurting.   Let us create a church that is not simply a place of welcome, but a place of belonging for all the world.  In short, we cannot just preach the Gospel, we must be the Gospel. 

On November 6th you will have the chance to cast your vote.  I invite you to listen carefully, compare the messages and policies to the words of Jesus Christ. Place aside political parties and place Jesus Christ at the center of your heart. Will it be the cross? Please vote and vote your faith.  

Let us create a society, a country, a faith where everyone belongs. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


A detailed look at the 2018 Budget.  We are making great strides.  There is great hope in our diocese. We will Know Jesus and we will Change the World.  We are Revolutionary.

Friday, October 19, 2018

What Mountains? Revolutionary.

This past week, my the flight path home to Philadelphia placed us over the Alps.  I sat in awe and reverence of God’s creation as the light of the setting sun blanketed the peaks.  The enormity and the majesty.  "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.... For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth" (Psalm 33:6, 9).

As we banked toward the west, I called to mind the courage and daring of many who have stood at the base of the mountains and were determined to find a way over the mountains.  I must say, I admire courage.  JAs this beautiful view receded, I thought of Hannibal’s words “mountains? What mountains? (The attributed quote was “we I will either find a way or make one.)  People like to preach fear, timidity, safety.  Let’s be bold and cast fear to bins of history. Jesus tells us to “fear not.”

 At the sight of the mountains, I thought of our beloved Diocese of Pennsylvania...what mountains? What obstacles?

Revolutionary. Yes, we are revolutionary.

Let us go forth and preach the Risen Christ. Let go change the world in His name.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

St. Luke

The beloved physician St. Luke shared the poetic beauty of the Gospel of Luke and the holy fire of the early church in the Acts of the Apostles.  It inspires us to live with the message of Jesus Christ.  Touch the world with the Good News of our Savior and to move forward with the courage and the power of the early church.  The words of the Magnificat should be indelibly etched in our hearts.  

Luke is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Let us remember that Luke stayed with Paul during his imprisonment in Caesarea and accompanied Paul as a faithful companion on the dangerous journey to Rome. So let us use St. Luke as an example of faithfulness and hope in the Risen Christ.  Let us tell the same story.  

I leave you with two of my favorite Gospel passages are from Luke and Acts:

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’” (Luke 1:9-14)


“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, 1and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” (Acts 3:1-10)

Thank you, beloved physician for reminding us again and again of the presence of Jesus Christ.  What we have is Jesus, and we keep thinking we need something more.  Jesus is the truth and the only remedy for our life.  Live with the hope of the Risen Christ.

2018 Convention Eucharist. Sermon

Good Shepherd, always beside us; your rod and staff our comfort, your cross ever before us as our guide. Loving Shepherd, may I sing yo...