Habits of Grace – The Growing Edge

Habits of Grace, July 7, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[July 7, 2020] As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’ A new meditation will be posted each week. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.
July 7, 2020: The growing edge
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The 4th of July weekend has just concluded and a new week has begun, but the titanic struggles of the old world continue. The struggles to face painful truths of our racial past, the struggles to find ways to fashion a new future, the struggles for racial justice and human equality and true human reconciliation. Even in the midst of these struggles, we still face a pandemic that is worldwide. Now the United States itself is gravely threatened and affected by COVID-19. And even in the midst of all of that, we enter a season of electioneering, campaigning, a presidential election that could well be a profoundly polarizing and divisive election for our country.

In this time, I remember the words of Howard Thurman, who I often go back to. Dr. Thurman was one of the founders of probably the first interracial and interreligious church in the United States in San Francisco, back in the forties and fifties. He was the author of Jesus and the Disinherited. He was one of the people who went and met Mahatma Gandhi in the 1940s, and brought back his teachings of non-violent social change that influenced an entire civil rights movement. He was quietly, if you will, the spiritual director of many of the leaders of the civil rights movement. Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, Martin King, many others went quietly to Howard Thurman to talk, to reflect, to pray. He wrote this in one of his meditations about times of great transition and turmoil:

Look well to the growing edge. All around us, worlds are dying and new worlds are being born. All around us, life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such as the growing edge. It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed. The upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason. A source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of a child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!

God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.

Bishop Sutton’s Statement on the Current Crisis

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We are enduring a spring of the deadly outbreaks of three viruses: Covid-19, racism and violence. We’re suffering from over 100,000 deaths of the coronavirus as of today, but are also becoming increasingly aware of the thousands of “silent deaths” of predominantly black and brown persons from a violent society that has never overcome its original sins of white privilege and racism. These sins have shown their face in the past few weeks in the outrageous violent deaths of unarmed black persons, as well as in several other racially fueled and demeaning incidents across our nation. People of good will all over the world are protesting; they are variously ashamed, enraged, and fearful of an uncertain future.

How did we get here?

We are a people of faith. We follow in the footsteps of one who was a member of a subjugated race in a powerful empire, unjustly accused, brutally tortured, and who suffered a grisly death at the hands of political and religious leaders who colluded to prevent his message of peace, justice and salvation from spreading. The world in which we live today is not too different from the world for which our Savior gave his life.

We worship a merciful and compassionate God, who was made manifest to us in the face of Jesus the Christ. After his resurrection, facing the very ones who betrayed him only a few days before, the first words out of his mouth were, “Peace be with you.” Ever since, his followers have vowed to seek and serve Christ in the face of every human being.

More than fifty years after the dream of Martin Luther King for a just, multiracial society of a free people living in peace, where do we go from here?

Here are a few resources to get you started. I invite you to prayerfully and carefully read the excellent statement of the Diocese of Maryland’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the present racial crisis that we’re facing. I also invite you to view and listen to my recent dialogue on racial trauma with a white member of the diocese as we try to demonstrate how to have civil and respectful conversations about race in America.

Watch an interview with our diocesan urban missioner, the Rev. Ramelle McCall and listen to other voices from across the diocese on our growing list of sermons and statements.

Representing the diocese, Bishop Ihloff and I will be gathering later this week with other religious leaders in Baltimore to make a public common outdoor witness for justice and peace in this troubling time. Look for more details to come as they unfold, and how you may be able to support this witness.

The Diocesan Truth and Reconciliation Committee will be extending an invitation to the diocese to participate in a dialogue on race and the impact of current events in our country, If not now, when?  If not us, who? How long oh Lord, how long? Please stay tuned for more information on a date and time.

The Diocese of Maryland has made great strides in trying to repair the damage of racial injustice in our state and in our world. There is much more work to be done still…stay tuned. Will you join me in this effort for the next several years?

If not now, when? If not us, who?

+Eugene

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Forward by Forward

The Forward Day by Day podcast is available on all streaming platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

We also offer other podcasts to center you in prayer:
A Morning at the Office: includes all three readings as well as bonus prayers.
An Evening at Prayer: Daily Evening Prayer according to The Book of Common Prayer
Daily Prayer: includes two readings and follows the same text as our app and website.
ChurchNext: discussions on a variety of topics in the Episcopal and Christian scope.
The Good Book Club Podcast: regular church-wide readings of selected books of the Bible.

Habits of Grace

Habits of Grace, April 20, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[April 20, 2020] As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’ A new meditation will be posted on Mondaysthrough May. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.

 April 20, 2020:  God Hears Our Prayers

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The late professor Walter Wink, in one of his books, says that “History belongs to the intercessors who believe and pray a new future into being.” None of us know the mystery of prayer and how it works. I don’t know the intricacies of prayer’s mysteries. What I do know and believe, is that prayer makes a difference. It’s not a magic foot. It’s not a way to… It’s not a form of wish fulfillment, but it is a way of bringing our deepest needs and concerns and our very life into our consciousness and into the very presence of God.

There’s an interesting story in the eighth chapter of the Book of Revelation, just a few of the verses, where you have this swirling of events happening in history and a world in chaos and the text says, “There was silence in heaven for half an hour.” Walter Wink and others looking at that say that in its highly symbolic language, the Book of Revelation may be trying to tell us that even in the midst of all the chaos of the world, the prayers of God’s people actually make a difference. Because if you look at that small section of the first few chapters of chapter eight in Revelation, during that silence of heaven, it says that the prayers of the saints are mingled with the incense before the throne of God and that those prayers are taken right to God. God hears our prayers. God responds in God’s way and we respond.

Prayer matters. It’s not magic, but it makes a difference. There’s a prayer in the prayer book that I thought you might like. It’s a prayer for in times of sickness, for use by the sick person, but maybe it’s a prayer that can apply to us all.

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever shall be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. If I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words and give me the spirit of Jesus.

What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer. God love you. God bless you and may God hold you and this whole world, the entire human family and the whole of creation in those almighty hands of love.