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.

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...