Saturday, December 29, 2018

Feast of St. Thomas Becket

The Feast of Thomas Becket.

Help us, like Thomas, defend and preserver our Lord’s church from those who would harm it. Amen.

There is no more celebrated English saint than Thomas Becket. A strong churchman who wavered for a moment, but then learned one cannot come to terms with evil, and so became a a defender of the faith, a protector of the church, a martyr, and a saint. Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his own cathedral during Christmastide - December 29, 1170.

His career had been a stormy one. While archdeacon of Canterbury, he was made chancellor of England at the age of 36 by his friend King Henry II. Henry and Thomas had been comrades, and the king had nominated him for Archbishop of Canterbury in part because he thought he could influence him.

Thomas gave him fair warning: he might not accept all of Henry’s intrusions into Church affairs.
Nevertheless, in 1162 he was made archbishop, resigned his chancellorship, and reformed his whole way of life.  When Becket took the Chair of St. Augustine, he turned from the convivial life of a courtier to the austere life of an ascetic and became a champion of the poor and of the rights of the church.

Troubles began. Henry insisted upon usurping Church rights. He sought to control and use the church for the crown's political and economic aims. At one time, supposing some conciliatory action possible, Thomas came close to compromise. He momentarily approved the Constitutions of Clarendon, which would have denied the clergy the right of trial by a Church court and prevented them from making direct appeal to Rome.

But Thomas eventually rejected the Constitutions, fled to France for safety, and remained in exile for seven years. When he returned to England he suspected it would mean certain death.  Henry II never intended to have Becket killed, but after years of altercation the King exclaimed, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" Four of his knights set out to oblige the king, and a few days later they fell upon the archbishop in his cathedral at Canterbury and killed him near the altar.

Thomas Becket's death signaled a victory for his cause since it resulted in the rallying of enormous public pressure against the king. The slain archbishop became a symbol of the integrity and independence of the church from an oppressive government. The sainted archbishop was laid to rest in Canterbury Cathedral, and the site of his death became a shrine. For many generations it was the most popular place of pilgrimage in the British Isles.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Feast of the Holy Innocents - December 28

The Feast of the Holy Innocents.

The importance of all life is profoundly evident today.
Herod “the Great,” king of Judea, was unpopular with his people because of his connections with the Romans and his religious indifference. Hence he was insecure and fearful of any threat to his throne. He was a master politician and a tyrant capable of extreme brutality. He killed his wife, his brother, and his sister’s two husbands, to name only a few.

Matthew 2:1-18 tells this story: Herod was “greatly troubled” when astrologers from the east came asking the whereabouts of “the newborn king of the Jews,” whose star they had seen. They were told that the Jewish Scriptures named Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he could also “do him homage.” They found Jesus, offered him their gifts, and warned by an angel, avoided Herod on their way home. Jesus escaped to Egypt.

Herod became furious and “ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.” The horror of the massacre and the devastation of the mothers and fathers led Matthew to quote Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children…” (Matthew 2:18). Rachel was the wife of Jacob (Israel). She is pictured as weeping at the place where the Israelites were herded together by the conquering Assyrians for their march into captivity.

The Church venerates these children as martyrs (flores martyrum); they are the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution; they died not only for Christ, but in his stead (St. Aug., "Sermo 10us de sanctis”).

St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome is believed to possess the bodies of several of the Holy Innocents. A portion of these relics was transferred by Sixtus V to Santa Maria Maggiore.

Let us pray for life and life in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

December 27th. The Feast of St. John

The Feast of Saint John - the Apostle’s Story

It is God who calls; human beings answer.

St. John "the beloved disciple" was a Galilean, son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother to St. James the Greater, The vocation of John and James is stated in the Gospels: Jesus called them; they followed. The absoluteness of their response is indicated by the account. James and John “were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him” (Matthew 4:21b-22).

Jesus showed St. John particular instances of kindness and affection above all the rest. He had the happiness to be with Peter and James at the Transfiguration of Christ, and was permitted to witness His agony in the Garden. He was allowed to rest on Our Savior's bosom at the Last Supper, and and the one to whom Jesus gave the exquisite honor of caring for his mother, as John stood beneath the cross. “Woman, behold your son…. Behold, your mother” (John 19:26b, 27b). St. John was the only one of the Apostles who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion and Death.

On the first Easter, Mary Magdalene “ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him’” (John 20:2). John recalls, perhaps with a smile, that he and Peter ran side by side, but then “the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first” (John 20:4b). He did not enter, but waited for Peter and let him go in first. “Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed” (John 20:8).

In the interval between the Resurrection and the Ascension, John and Peter were together on the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1) having returned to their old calling. When Christ appeared on the shore in the dusk of morning, John was the first to recognize him.

The last words of the Gospel reveal the attachment which existed between Peter and John. It was not enough for Peter to know his own fate, he must learn also something of the future that awaited his friend. “Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die.” (John 21:22-23)
The Acts show us them still united, entering together as worshippers into the Temple (Acts 3:1).

John was with Peter when the first great miracle after the Resurrection took place—the cure of the man crippled from birth—which led to their spending the night in jail together. The mysterious experience of the Resurrection is perhaps best contained in the words of Acts: “Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they (the questioners) were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus” (Acts 4:13).They were fellow-workers together in the first step of Church expansion.

St. John remained for a long time in Jerusalem with the Blessed Mother of our Lord, though tradition of no great antiquity asserts that he took her to Ephesus. When he went to Ephesus is uncertain. He was at Jerusalem fifteen years after Saint Paul's first visit there [Acts 15:6]. There is no trace of his presence there when Saint Paul was at Jerusalem for the last time. In Ephesus, he founded many churches in Asia Minor.

St. John wrote his Gospel after the other Evangelists, about sixty-three years after the Ascension of Christ; also three Epistles, and the mysterious Book of Revelation. He was brought to Rome and, according to tradition, was cast into a caldron of boiling oil by order of Emperor Domitian. The legend of the boiling oil occurs in Tertullian and in Saint Jerome. Like the Three Children in the fiery furnace of Babylon, he was miraculously preserved unhurt.

He was later exiled to labor at the mines on the Island of Patmos where he wrote the Apocalypse, but afterwards returned to Ephesus. In his extreme old age he continued to visit the churches of Asia.
St. Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words: "My dear children, love one another.”

St. John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan (as seems to be gathered from Eusebius' history of the Saint); that is, the hundredth of the Christian era, or the sixty-sixth from the crucifixion of Christ, St. John then being about ninety-four years old, according to St. Epiphanus.

Because of the depth of his Gospel, John is usually thought of as the eagle of theology, soaring in high regions that other writers did not enter. John’s is the Gospel of Jesus’ glory.

Compiled from a collection of sources.

December 26th. St. Stephen

The Feast of St. Stephen

The day after Christmas, let us not take our eyes off the transformative presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. A child will become great and mighty. Jesus meets violence with love, hate with peace. From the manger to cross and the resurrection, Jesus transforms lives.

Thus on the second day in the octave of Christmas the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Stephen. The first Christian martyr and one of the first deacons. Stoned outside Jerusalem, he died praying for his executioners.

In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke praises St. Stephen as “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” who “did great wonders and signs among the people” during the earliest days of the Church. Luke's history of the period also includes the moving scene of Stephen's death – witnessed by St. Paul before his conversion – at the hands of those who refused to accept Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.

Stephen himself was a Jew who most likely came to believe in Jesus during the Lord's ministry on earth. He may have been among the 70 disciples whom Christ sent out as missionaries, who preached the coming of God's kingdom while traveling with almost no possessions.

This spirit of detachment from material things continued in the early Church, in which St. Luke says believers “had all things in common” and “would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

But such radical charity ran up against the cultural conflict between Jews and Gentiles, when a group of Greek widows felt neglected in their needs as compared to those of a Jewish background.
Stephen's reputation for holiness led the Apostles to choose him, along with six other men, to assist them in an official and unique way as this dispute arose. Through the sacramental power given to them by Christ, the Apostles ordained the seven men as deacons, and set them to work helping the widows.

As a deacon, Stephen also preached about Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament law and prophets. Unable to refute his message, some members of local synagogues brought him before their religious authorities, charging him with seeking to destroy their traditions.

Stephen responded with a discourse recorded in the seventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. He described Israel's resistance to God's grace in the past, and accused the present religious authorities of “opposing the Holy Spirit” and rejecting the Messiah.

Before he was put to death, Stephen had a vision of Christ in glory. “Look,” he told the court, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” The council, however, dragged the deacon away and stoned him to death.

“While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,’” records St. Luke in Acts 7. “Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.”

The first Christian martyrdom was overseen by a Pharisee named Saul – later Paul, and still later St. Paul – whose own experience of Christ would transform him into a believer, and later a martyr himself.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


As we journey toward the holiest of nights, it is often easy to overlook the miraculous. Wonder and reverence are often relegated to the past. Yet, the reality of the Incarnation still shines out over the glare of commercialism, nationalism, secularism, and individualism. 
God, in humble submission, peered into our eyes from a manger so that our enslavement to sin and death would end. God with us; divine life so that we can have life. It is not a myth, a feel-good story or abstract theology. A child born unto Mary, a child born unto us, was laid in a manger. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High." In him the Alpha and Omega are forever one, and "His Kingdom will know no end." Jesus is the purest truth ever known. 
Let us not be flippant with the purity Christmas story. Hold each moment of Christmas in blessed contemplation. While the rest of the world moves from one social celebration to the next, or laments the supposed death of the Church, I encourage you to hold the gift of His birth in your hands. Gather around and tell the story of Bethlehem as a prayer. Gather, gather together, and recount the birth of the holy child Jesus. Yes, God is with us and eternally present. 
"Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." Approach the manger, look inside and peer into the eyes of God. It is in gazing on the face of Jesus that we awaken the holy in our lives. Like the shepherds let us share Him with the world, "glorifying and praising God for all we have heard and seen." 
Christ is about to be born into your life, and because of Christmas we will have life eternal. This is the reason we use the Greek formula of Gabriel's greeting to Mary "chaĩre - rejoice!" Rejoice, our Savior is born. Rejoice, our new relationship with God is born. Rejoice, for this is the Good News. 
Peer into the manger and it is there we find goodness, peace, hope, love and life. 
My prayers for a peaceful and holy Christmas.

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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Bishop Daniel Gutierrez, Diocese of Pennsylvania August 28, 2018/Nuevo Amanecer

Es un gran honor estar aquí con mis hermanas y hermanos. Mi sangre, mi fe, mi familia.

This week, your work, your prayers, this community will change the church. You are co-creators and collaborators with Jesus. The Kingdom is at hand.  

One of my favorite authors is Alice Walker. One of her short stories is The Welcome Table. It tells of an elderly, nameless black woman, "the color of poor gray Georgian earth," worn down by old king cotton. Dressed in tattered rags, she makes her way one Sunday morning "down the road toward the big white church," as the story says. A church that is pale in many ways. When she walks in, the good church folks are shocked. 
The preacher reminds her pleasantly that this is not her church, "as if one could choose the wrong one." Maybe she is a bit confused and in the wrong place. She shakes her head and brushes past them all and finds a seat near the back. Inside it is very cold, colder than usual. The dignified ushers come by, lean down and whisper. “You’re in the wrong place.”

She ignores the request of an usher that she leave, people turn around and look at her, the congregation is restless, and they finally insist. The dignified folk hurls her out. She is stunned; she looks around until she spies a familiar face, a friend coming down the road. 

How many people have walked into a church and have felt like they do not belong? The stares, the whispers. Feeling out of place. Maybe some act like you do not exist. In a sacred space, and few can manage a simple smile. The pain of isolation.

A bulletin is shoved in your hand. Will anyone speak to you? You want to turn around and walk right back out that door, but it is too late. The choir begins singing “Christ has made the sure foundation.” Like that woman in the story, you slide into the back row and fumble with the bulletin. You begin to take note that you are different: clothes, skin, language.

That red, white and blue sign says you will be welcome. You need Jesus, you seek Jesus, you see Jesus, but feeling that Kingdom, the one you are seeking is a bit far off. Is this a place where you belong? We have to ask ourselves hard questions, has this been the experience of some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Based or race, color, orientation, economic status or age?

If it has, even one instance is unacceptable. This is why the holy work you are doing this week has profound meaning. The call to change the church, open hearts, lives, and doors. To build. All of you representing the beauty of the Christ and obeying his words: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Working alongside Jesus and pulling that beautiful kingdom down to earth. Your faithfulness, the ability to dream and the daring to ensure dreams do not simply stay dreams. That they become a reality.

The courage to step forth and change the church. I bring you greetings from the extraordinary, living, loving Diocese of Pennsylvania: 138 parishes and missions who seek to Know Jesus and Change the World. Before I begin, I would like to thank all the organizers, hosts, translators, and staff. 

You bless me. Sincere thanks to my friend, Canon Anthony Guillen. Always faithful, always fighting the good fight. 

To all in this room from various backgrounds and races, your presence exemplifies the love of this church and the importance of Latino’s in the church. We are all family. We are one. Profound gratitude to those who came before us. Clergy and laity, who fought for equality, raised their voices, who were forgotten, ignored. Like the father of my sister, Sandra - Alejandro Montes.

Those nudged aside and at times - seemingly unwelcome in the Episcopal Church. The seemingly insurmountable walls, where the Kingdom of God was visible only through locked glass doors. Instead of leaving fingerprints on the glass, they pulled and pushed and boldly opened them walked with faith into the church. 

With Christ and courage, led the way. This conference is a testament to their faith. 

Allow me to introduce myself. You know in our culture, it is not where you went to school, where you work - it is where are you from? Quien es tu familia. I am Daniel George Policarpio Gutierrez. I was born and raised in Albuquerque. My family settled at the base of a majestic NM mountain before the U.S. was a hope or dream.

My profound influences were my grandmother Antonia and my father George. She was love. The importance of serving others and an unshakeable faith in God. No matter the crisis, pain or joy - it all was held in the loving hands of God. I can still hear her voice: “no te preocupes mijo, God will take care of us.”

My father grew up dirt poor, as a small child shining shoes at the bar. He taught me to be relentless. To work 10 times as hard as everyone else, in school, at work, because as a Latino that was my only chance. To hold my head up high and that a man can be kind and loving. He took great pride in serving his country as a Marine. He believed in the promise of this country. He loved this country. Out of many, we become one.

The greater good is the common good. That despite this country’s difficulties, the goodness of people, the promise of its birth would always shine as a beacon of hope to the world. I read history; I wanted to be the President of this country. I never felt different. Until one day a fellow classmate at my Catholic High School turned to me and said, “Why don’t you guys go back to where you came from.” 

I looked around for someone standing near me. No one. Then thought, to my house? I understood what he meant. Go back, even though my family has been here forever. Some people viewed me as different. Somehow less than others. Second class and marginalized. The same pain many in this have experienced.

The sin has been inflicted upon females, the LGBT community, the poor, and the list in all its horror can go on. Different. The power, hate, elitism, exclusion, and separation. Attempting to dehumanize and steal the dignity of a person. This happened right after Mass. Really? I can tell you, it was one hell of a fist fight outside of the church. That was long before I found my contemplative, peaceful self. 

One person, one sentence, one act of hate can leave lifelong wounds. Yet despite those who want to destroy dreams, we are often blessed by those saints who lift us up. The recognition that I did not do it alone. A community uplifted me. Would not allow me to fail. They were the face of Christ when I was weak. 

A multi-ethnic community of loving men and women. I was moved by their endurance, strength, and unyielding faith. I also studied with, lived next to, and worked alongside both wealthy and poor brothers and sisters of every race and age. I received their love, support, and friendship.

My models of kindness and love are my wife and father in law: Anglos from the south. They loved me with a deep and pure Christian love. I eagerly wait for you, my new companions on the journey ahead. So with hope, love, community, and Christ, I spent a career in politics and government.

Now, I am blessed to be a shepherd to all of God’s beloved and serve as Bishop of one of the largest dioceses in the Episcopal Church. I sit in the chair of the first Bishop of Pennsylvania. The first Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church William White. My beautiful diocese is resourceful, mission-oriented, willing to give and learn.

The faithfulness to walk with me as their Bishop. Willing to know Jesus and change the world. To take new steps into an exciting future. (For Priests and Deacons - it is a great place to serve. I am looking for co-creators in Christ.) What starts here can change the church. 

Over the next few days, we will laugh, sing, pray and work. This is holy work because this is a transformational moment in the church. You are part of it. You are moving into a sacred space of transformation. Envision a new church, envision a new path.

Like Congressman John Lewis said, “Don’t close your eyes because you are afraid of what you will see. Be honest in your assessment. Transformation and revelation require an adjustment of what we know to what we know can be.” 

Do not settle for anything less than the vision of the beautiful kingdom of God. As you do your work, I want to set something before you. I want to challenge you. This may be a bit controversial. A bit unsettling. The words we use are important. 

For Latinos and for every person of color - we are not an outreach project. We are the church. Latinos are not a ministry. We are the church. We are called to build and in the building we need the materials, the soil and challenges. I love the imagery of the field because we are called as a community to prepare our field. I often say this, but I believe it true.

Everyone likes changes until it actually occurs. But for change to be successful, it has to be strategic and organic. The strategic part is what we are doing this week. We must prepare the field, remove the stones and obstacles, clear out the dead roots, till the soil, bring in new life and nutrients. The organic part is our home communities. 

Because what grows well in Philadelphia may not have the same growth in Miami. What grows well in Miami is not the same soil in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, Raleigh, Denver. Each community, each church takes their own beautiful seeds for their fields and nurtures, loves, tends and if we all do this - we all share in the abundance.

I also urge you to ban the phrase “it has always been done this way.” It is destructive and the death knell to creativity, abundance, and life. It is also the code word to lock the doors. The church always says that Latino’s are the future. Yet, we do not need words; we need the workers and materials. 

And like our history, if it is not provided, we will find a way to make it happen. The Latino population in the United States reached nearly 58 million in 2016. It is the driver of U.S. demographic growth, accounting for half of national population growth since 2000. There are more Latinos in the United States than Canadians in Canada. More blacks in the Caribbean, Central and South America than blacks in the United States. 

This is no longer a colonial church because we know the power of Jesus Christ has never been confined to a colony. We are more than statistics. I sometimes think we are like that unnamed child in John. Do you remember the one? 

Five thousand people at the foot of Jesus, they are hungry, the apostles are restless, trying to figure out what to do. Jesus in his compassion said to feed them. Then this young, unnamed child comes forth with loaves and fish. Unnamed but always serving Christ and others. 

We are not a ministry, we are the church. 

We need to break down the assumptions. What are a few of the assumptions or comments:

  • Let’s have a Spanish language mass for all the Latinos. 
  • We need a Priest who speaks Spanish. 
  • You don’t speak English well. 
  • What do you mean? You don’t speak Spanish? You have an accent. 
  • Are you Cuban or Mexican? Is there a difference?
  • You don’t look Latino, or we look too Latino. 
  • Your light, your dark, you are black, your Indio. What are you? 

As Bishop, I still encounter them. Let's throw out those questions, the assumptions, the preconceived notions. Be radical and bold. With the diversity, the commonality are extraordinary opportunities. We know the world, we know the people, we know the church. Because we live and walk in two worlds and at times - two church services. We live between heaven and earth Light and darkness.

Yet in-between lies the heart. Our soul is true. This community is comfortable walking in two worlds – we are a bridge to the world. Traditional Thanksgiving dinner with football and then cover the food with red chile. Radio flipped between rancheras, tropical and George Jones or the Rolling Stones. Telenovelas and Downton Abbey. In church, we can sing Rutter and Montana.

We are Caribbean, African, Iberian, North African. Black, brown, white and every shade in- between. We worship in Los Angeles, Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami and every place in between. We are North American, South American, Central American, we are Americans who follow Jesus in the Episcopal Church because we are the church. 

We have the bloodlines of the world. A diversity that colors the rainbow, we have the strength and resilience of history; we have the faith that has carried us on this journey. If it does not begin with us, in the church, then it has little chance for life. We cannot have a museum called the church. No, we have to be a place of life. Where Jesus Christ is tasted, felt, seen and taken out into the streets and communities.

Someone once said that Jesus wanted his disciples to bring heaven to earth. I think that’s why he spent his time forming a community with an alternative, liberated imagination that had the courage and freedom to act in a different vision and a different perception of reality. I think he still wants his disciples to bring heaven to earth, and the question is, “How do we do it?”

It begins, continues and ends with Jesus Christ. I am a bit of an evangelical grounded in the Catholic tradition. Christianity is not primarily a philosophy or a system of ethics or a religious ideology. It is a relationship to the unsettling person of Jesus Christ, to God. The one who rose from the dead – Jesus. To know Jesus is exciting, liberating and changes the world.

Place Jesus at the center of all we do. Let Him inform how we live, what words we will say, how we forgive, how we meet people on their journey. Tell his story, tell people what he means to you. Jesus needs witnesses for the Church. He needs people who have become entirely unconcerned about themselves because they have seen and heard.

How this divine love, this beautiful divine love has forgiven sin, redeemed life and is continually transforming the church in God’s image.  I have faith in Episcopalians, despite the rumors, that we are willing to proclaim our faith, without hesitation or embarrassment. This is Kingdom building.

 People seek meaning, we need beauty. People need us, they need Jesus.

What we have is Jesus Christ, and we always think we need something more. Like Peter in the Acts of the Apostles - all I have is Jesus - stand up and walk. I am asking that we make a commitment to discipleship. In each field, in each context, with the seeds you have available. We need to teach people about Jesus, we need to create disciples.

The church must stop worrying about membership and more about discipleship. This is the first block in building. When we tell and teach the story, it leads to the Kingdom. Tell the story again, again, and again. When we live the story, we are building up God’s Kingdom. There is no limit to what we can do in this world if Jesus indeed is our Lord.

It is the willingness to proclaim Jesus Christ boldly and passionately. The recognition of the humility and love of God found in the stable in Bethlehem. The power, redemption and holy mystery of the Sacred Cross. The abandonment of our past in the discarded burial linens of the empty tomb.

The breathtaking hope and new life of the Resurrection of our Lord. As we know, one person can change the world by giving people hope. Build a community filled with the heart of Christ. Build a community that looks like Christ. Jesus started his ministry by building community. He called disciples and began teaching them about the Kingdom of Heaven.

He used simple things like mustard seeds and pearls. Things people could understand, and he inspired a new way of living. Now, this is hard work because we all think we are open and loving, but there are invisible barriers. How many times have we heard – “we have a welcoming church?” Do we merely welcome or do we create a home?

I cannot speak for long without riling things up. I always had a bit of a problem with “The Episcopal Welcomes You.” Words are important. Welcome designates that this is my house and a welcome can be revoked. We need to create a church of belonging. Belonging designates that if someone is missing from the table, the decisions, the leadership, then something is missing.

At each service, each vestry meeting, each rector’s search, each Bishop’ search we should ask: “Who is not here?” Samuel Johnson once observed, "Mankind more frequently requires to be reminded than informed.” We need to remember and reawaken the truth that lies in their heart - Jesus Christ. We can only do so, face to face, person to person voice to voice.

Being sacredly present and listening. Engage in the sacrament of listening to hear what our brothers and sisters need rather than what want to do or think is best for them. Being a community means living your faith. Never leave the side of Jesus, even when his body is suffering. When you build a community that is centered with the heart of Christ.

One that resembles that beautiful Kingdom of God we cannot be silent, we cannot look the other way, we cannot close our ears to the cries of our brothers and sisters. We are called to live our faith. It is said that we to fail to speak, to bear witness to our commitment, is not the virtue of prudence. It is self-serving expediency.

I do not believe Jesus said, “I suggest you love one another.” Or, “I would really appreciate it.” I think he was serious. Well, he commanded it. The most helpless members of our society need us. Don't fail them! Don't be afraid to speak! Don't let anyone make you ashamed to stand up as a disciple of Christ for all human beings! 

Loving people who can't love you back is no small thing! We know it is hard to go anywhere in the world without your soul, your faith, with Christ accompanying you. This community is for everyone. If something happens to a person in Arizona - it happens to us. If something happens in Puerto Rico. It happens to us. Immigrants, those seeking a better life, the poor in middle America. 

Our hearts have to beat for those who clean the toilets, make the beds in our hotel rooms, and are invisible to others. Those who cry because they cannot feed their children, the public servants working the night shift. Those who cannot pay their mortgage or cannot find decent health care. Those who sleep on the streets of our cities. 

As a community where we are one, we hold those who suffer from gang violence. The elderly, those in the military or a veteran who is silent, the teen who is contemplating suicide because of bullying or because of their orientation.We know a child’s hunger, an elderly’s loneliness, addiction, or pain does not know color or place of origin. If it happens to anyone, it is pain upon our body. Because if we are the church, then we better start acting like it.

In Philadelphia, the 5th largest city, there are many homeless. I was recently in Center City and I watched as people walked by the homeless who would  not look at them. As if they did not exist, they did not smile at the people on the street. Maybe people cannot look at them because our soul as a people is telling us that is inherently wrong. That as a country, as Christians we should be ashamed that one sister, one brother is hurting. 

The church must stop finding ways to keep all our brothers and sisters out.

We must be engaged in going out into the streets. There are millions of people who have not heard the message of Jesus Christ. What are we waiting for? We must go in their language and in their context and meet them in their lives. Where the Kingdom on earth is for everyone. Sick are healed, hungry are fed, the blind see, and the poor have the good news to embrace.

It requires us to reimagine. To subvert the old ways of doing things, to challenge ourselves. To speak up and speak out. Build a community, shake things up, shake things up a lot. Be bold, daring, live with the fire of the early disciples. With Christ comes the dirty hands, the laughter, the tears, the tired feet and loving eyes of Jesus Christ.Let us have the willingness to do whatever it takes to serve God. 

All we have is God and the community we create. 

We also need to make it clear, that the problems in the world, that people’s fears and insecurities, are not because of the poor, the hungry, the stranger, the lost. The problem is that we are not working as a community of humanity in solving what caused this pain.

In this society, I cannot seem to understand when people get so angry when we help others. As if when we help another - they lose something. We need to change that. God was generous with merited grace. God was generous with Jesus. We did not deserve this love. Nothing was lost, everything was gained. For everyone. The final building block is you. Because you are not a ministry. You are the church. 

It is of enormous significance that when Jesus first appeared as a preacher in the hills of Galilee, his theme was “the kingdom of God is at hand!” In other words, in his own person, an entirely new way of ordering things is our call. 

As we walk in two worlds, we need to hold two sides together in one hopeful place. But, there is one thing that is critical in bringing life to the church. Be who you are in all your wonderful beauty. That is all we can do because it is authentic and true. Be you - not what people think we should be. In language, music, prayer, and faith.

Tell your history, your indigenous heritage, your black history, our mutual faith pilgrimage. Write a new story - your story. Speak Spanish. Speak English. Speak both in service. Have one service. Let us commit not to try to fit in but to create new spaces of learning and growing - for everyone. Be what God created you to be.

If we do live in our church as ourselves, our beauty diminishes and the garden withers. Because we have the soil and we have the seeds. We are Americans, we are the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, African, North African, Central America, South America, we are the United States. We carry the blood from all the corners of the earth.

We are Episcopalian, we are Christian. We are not a ministry, we are the church. I passionately believe in the transformative and redemptive power of Jesus Christ. I passionately believe in the courage and faithfulness of his followers. I passionately believe in you. What we do here will change the church and the world.

When people come together in Jesus, in a sacred, holy and open way, that garden we are tending begins to have new life. Flowers start to bloom, colors will awaken, and we walk in this world with the aroma of Christ. Proclaim Christ always and then live it. Let’s push the church to the edges. Let’s move out into the world.

Because we know, the only time the church grows is when it goes. When it goes to the community. When it goes to the poor when it goes to the margins. When it embraces, all those society has pushed aside. Let’s be one community and raise up leaders, laity, vestry members, diocesan leaders, priests and deacons of colors. Let’s support one another.

Let’s ordain Bishops of color. I have great faith in this Episcopal Church. There are far too few women Bishops in the Episcopal Church. But let me share one other fact. In The Episcopal Church, outside of Province 9, there are only two Latino Diocesan bishops.  I am encouraged that Cuba is now part of The Episcopal Church and with that inclusion we gain a Latina bishop. 

There is a Latina Bishop out there, sitting in the audience. You are out there. We need you.  It may take a generation.  The church is waiting. We need you.  You are the church. We cannot change the church unless we are one. We are strong; we withstood the isolation and attacks because we have lived our faith. In my own diocese - Blessed Absalom Jones, the Philadelphia 11. As a church, we fought for the inclusion of all people.

We elected a woman presiding bishop, a black presiding bishop. Let’s make history, let’s write a new story. We are called to this place to envision a new and innovative path forward. Let’s not stop, let’s double our efforts. Be courageous. Push the margins of ministry, try new things, take risks, be innovative and creative. 

I tell my staff often, fail, fail often and fail daringly. Because if we are not failing, we are not trying. 

If people in our own church are building walls - break them down, run through them. Our faith in Jesus is not only in our belief that Jesus, the Son of God, lived long ago, performed great miracles, presented wise teachings and died for us on the cross. He rose from the grave. Jesus lives within us and fulfills his divine ministry in and through us. What you are doing will change the church. You are the church. 

The Welcome Table Ends with the lady thrown out of the church onto the street. Because she did not fit in. She spots the old friend, grins toothlessly, and begins to giggle. It is none other than Jesus, and he is walking toward her. The two of them walk on together. She tells him her troubles, and he listens kindly. Smiling at her warmly. 

Under their feet, the ground becomes like clouds. They walk on without ever stopping. They are home. The people in the church never knew what happened to her.Some said they saw her jabbering to herself and walking off down the highway all alone. "They guessed maybe she had relatives across the river, some miles away. None of them really knew.” 

None of them really knew. Let us make it our call, our work where we sit next to the lady from the welcome table. Then we turn and find Jesus sitting on the other side.Prepare the field, plant the seeds, weather the storms, build community. The work you are doing is collaborating with Jesus. We may not see the fruits for one year or one generation. 

But someday, a child, a family will be blessed and benefit from this work. They will live in a church that you help build. They will look back and say, “that beautiful community working in Kanuga loved me and the church. They knew that my life, my faith is important. They collaborated with Jesus. Those people changed the church.” 

Fear not, he is with you at all time, stand up, speak out, expand the margins and be who God created you to be. Look, the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Change the church, change the world. You are not a ministry, because you, each one of you are the church.

For some reason, I could not attach the footnotes that I attribute to quotes.  Will attempt to fix.  (Gospel passages John 13:35 and John 17:21.  Three citations are attributed to Jim Summerville, Bishop Robert Baron and Governor Mario Cuomo

Via Dolorosa, Tour of the Dome of the Rock, Relationship, Back Home.

My sisters and brothers, I returned from the Anglican Communion Pilgrimage late yesterday. This pilgrimage and every pilgrimage has the...