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

Pentecost

May 31, 2020 The Rev. Joe Cochran, Rector

The Gospel of John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

 

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission. The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. From The Lectionary Page: http://lectionarypage.net

 

Racial Trauma: A Dialogue on How We Can Heal

May 31, 2020
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, elected in 2008. Previously he served as canon pastor of the Washington National Cathedral and director of its Cathedral Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage. Read more about Bishop Sutton.
Ford Rowan served as a news reporter for nearly 20 years. One of his first stories was on the integration of the University of Mississippi and the riots by white students. Later, as Pentagon Correspondent for NBC News, he covered combat in the Middle East and he hosted a PBS television show, International Edition. Ford is currently a member of the International Dialogue Initiative, an interfaith group that has done conflict resolution work in Jerusalem, Istanbul, Vienna, and Northern Ireland. For 20 years he has volunteered in prisons in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware with the Kairos Prison Ministry. He is a member of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis, MD.

Watch the video conversation

Presiding Bishop’s Pentecost Sermon

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Pentecost sermon from the live-streamed service at Washington National Cathedral

[May 31, 2020] The following is the text of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Pentecost sermon from the Washington National Cathedral service that was live-streamed on May 31, 2020.

This sermon can be watched at any time by clicking here.

This Pentecost service included the collect, “A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit among the People of God,” specially written for this time. This prayer is included at the end of the sermon text.

Washington National Cathedral
Pentecost
May 31, 2020

Pentecost in a Pandemic

And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen.

Today is the day of Pentecost, sometimes referred to as the birthday of the church, the beginning of the Jesus movement being launched into the world. When the Spirit of God, the same spirit that rested upon Jesus, when the spirit of God rested upon those first gathered apostles and followers. It was the beginning of what we call the church, this movement of those who follow Jesus. But this year, we observe Pentecost in the midst of a pandemic, and that’s what I’d like to talk with you about for a few moments. Pentecost in a pandemic.

For a text, the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 5:

We. . . boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (who) has been given to us.

The old spiritual says it this way. If you cannot preach like Peter and you cannot pray like Paul, just tell the love of Jesus how he died to save us all. There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

Pentecost in a pandemic. We really do observe this Pentecost in the midst of a pandemic. The pandemic of COVID-19 is real. It is painful. And we pray that scientists and researchers and all of the folk who are working hard will find a way to bring this pandemic to an end. But there’s another pandemic, not of the viral kind, but of the spiritual kind. It is a pandemic of the human spirit, when our lives are focused on ourselves, when the self becomes the center of the world and of the universe. It is a pandemic of self-centeredness. And it may be even more destructive than a virus.

This pandemic of self-centeredness, if you will, has been the root cause of every humanly created evil that has ever hurt or harmed any child of God or even the earth itself. James, in the Epistle says, and I quote, “What causes wars? What causes fighting among you? Is it not the passions that are at war in your own members? You desire and do not have, so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and wage war.” That is the pandemic of selfishness, of self-centeredness. It is the pandemic where I am the center of the universe and if I’m the center of the universe, then everybody else and everything else, including you, is the periphery.

And that pandemic is the root cause of every humanly created evil that has ever been made. Every war that has ever been fought, every bigotry, every injustice, every wrong that has ever been wrought. Anytime a human being has hurt another human child of God directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly, at the root cause is me being the center of the world and you on the periphery. Dr. Martin Luther King called this the reverse Copernican Revolution. Where not the sun is the center of the universe, but the self. Love is the antidote to that. Love is the cure for that. Love is what can help us remove that way of living and establish a way of life where we find life for us all.

If you cannot preach like Peter,
and you cannot pray like Paul,
just tell the love of Jesus,
how he died to save us all.

There is the balm in Gilead that can make the wounded whole. There is the balm in Gilead that can heal the sin-sick soul. There is a cure for that pandemic. Unselfish sacrificial love. If you listen to the writer of the spiritual, that’s what they grasped. Jesus didn’t die for himself, he died for others. He died for the good and the well-being of others, not for anything that he could get out of it. It was an unselfish act, if you will, a sacrificial act. And it is that way of unselfish, even sacrificial living that has the innate spiritual capacity to actually save and help us all.

Jesus following the teachings of Moses told us long ago, you shall love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself. To love God and love the neighbor and genuinely to love the self. Not prideful false self-love, but genuinely to love the self. That is the way. That’s the way to life. Not just for us individually, but for us corporately as a society and us globally as a global human family. Love is the way. It is not a mere utopian dream. It is our hope. Our only hope. And it is the cure for this pandemic caused by the human spirit.

But let no one deceive you. This is not cheap grace or sugar-coated religion. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to live an unselfish life. It’s not easy. And the truth is, much that we see around us is the fruit of this unhealthy self-centeredness. Seemingly ruling the day. But again, the spiritual may help us here. The singer said it this way,

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and think my life’s in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again.

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

Love is the way, but we don’t always have the power to live that way. But the spirit of the living God does have that power, because I think if I read my Bible correctly, 1st John chapter 4, it says, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God and those who love are born of God and know God, because God is love.” If God is love, and the Spirit of God is the spirit of God’s essence and life and heart, then when that spirit is poured out on us, the very love that is the heart of God is being poured out on us and love becomes possible. But it’s hard.

This past week, we have not only had to endure a pandemic occasioned by a virus, a viral pandemic, but we’ve had to endure and face a spiritual pandemic. The roots of self-centeredness where one person can look upon another person and despise and reject them, and not even behold them as a fellow child of God. We have seen once again the unthinkable become thinkable. It’s caused great pain or better yet, on Earth, the great pain that was already there.

In Minnesota, the killing of George Floyd was a violation of basic human decency and dignity. And we all saw it. We all saw it. Maybe the deeper pain that comes with that is that that wasn’t an isolated incident. It happened to Breonna Taylor on March 13th in Kentucky. It happened to Ahmaud Arbery on February 23rd in Georgia. And need I mention Melissa Ventura, Paul Castaway, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin? This is a painful path that we have been on for a long time. We’ve made such progress in our human relationships and in our racial relationships, and yet this seems not to have changed at all.

I’m 67 years old. In the late 1960s and early 70s when I was a teenager, the same thing was going on then. My father who was an Episcopal priest, rector of St. Philip’s in Buffalo, also served not only as a parish priest but as the director of human relations for the city of Buffalo. And in that capacity after riots in the 1960s, he was brought on board and brought others on board to lead sensitivity training sessions for police officers in the Buffalo police force. That was necessary because some of the riots that were occasioned resulted from precisely the same thing that happened just this past week in Minneapolis.

I was a teenager then and it was going on then. I was a teenager when my father warned me when I learned how to drive, that if ever you have encounters with the police, obey, do what they say. Do not talk back and watch how you move your hands. I was told that in the 1960s and we’re still having to say it today. That’s where some of the anger and the frustration that we’re seeing on our streets is coming from. It’s accumulated hurt and disappointment. But not just for those on the streets, for people of goodwill and human decency of all races, of all stripes, of all religions, of all kinds.

There is a part of us that just wants to throw up our hands, and in the words of the Psalmist cry, how long? How long oh, Lord? How long? And yet, we are not victims of fate. We are people of faith. We are not doomed and condemned to continue our past into our present and future. We need not be slaves of fate. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus. And this Jesus taught us that love will make a way out of no way. He taught us that sometimes you have to take up the cross and follow in his footsteps. And that if you dare to follow his way of love, you will find God’s way of life. We will not submit to fate. We must not give in to fate. We must dare to follow Jesus in the way of love that can save us all.

But I don’t have the power to do that all the time. And I suspect, neither do you. But God does. And that’s why the singer of the spiritual had a verse that said,

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and (I) think my life’s in vain,
but then th(at) Holy Spirit
(It) revives my soul again.

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

Love is the way. It can save us all. And maybe we’ve seen a sign of it. And maybe we’ve seen evidence that by the power of the spirit, we might be able to do it.

Public health officials have told us that we all need to start wearing these when we go out in public. These face masks. And it’s interesting, when you put the face mask on, it’s not fun to wear. They’ve told us that you’re really putting it on not to save yourself. You’re not putting it on to protect yourself. The reason for wearing the face mask is I wear it so that I don’t spread anything to you. I wear it to protect you. It’s a small inconvenience, a little sacrifice that actually may be a symbol of what it means to love. And the possible miracle could be that if I wear to protect you from me, and you wear it to protect me from you, or the virus within you, we get protected and we all win. And that is the power of love.

If I make room for you, and you make room for me, and if we will work together to create a society where there is room for all of God’s children, where every human being, every one of us is treated as a child of God, created in the image and likeness of God, where everybody is loved, everybody is honored, everybody is respected, everybody is created as a child of God. If we work together to build that kind of society and don’t give up, then love can save us all.

If you cannot preach like Peter,
and you cannot pray like Paul,
just tell the love of Jesus,
how he died to save us all.

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole.
There (really) is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

So, walk together children. And don’t you get weary because there is a great camp meeting in the promised land.

 

A note about A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit among the People of God:

From Pentecost Sunday through the first Sunday in September, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his Lutheran counterpart Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton welcome congregations and individuals to regularly pray “A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit among the People of God.” This prayer – crafted by a team of Lutheran and Episcopal prayer leaders in light of the COVID pandemic – is meant to unite us in common prayer and revive us for common mission, wherever and however we may be gathered.

A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit among the People of God
God of all power and love,
we give thanks for your unfailing presence
and the hope you provide in times of uncertainty and loss.
Send your Holy Spirit to enkindle in us your holy fire.
Revive us to live as Christ’s body in the world:
a people who pray, worship, learn,
break bread, share life, heal neighbors,
bear good news, seek justice, rest and grow in the Spirit.
Wherever and however we gather,
unite us in common prayer and send us in common mission,
that we and the whole creation might be restored and renewed,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Habits of Grace

Habits of Grace, May 29, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[May 29, 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 through May. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.

May 29, 2020:  Pray for the entire human family

Watch the Video
In the book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew scriptures, the text says,

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die . . .
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance

Jesus in Luke’s gospel said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall laugh.” This coming weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the last weekend in May, we will join with people of all faiths, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and people of good will to observe a time of grieving. To mourn those who have died from COVID-19, to pray for them and for their loved ones, to pray for all who are sick of any disease or condition, to pray for the entire human family.

It is a weekend of grieving, of collective and national grieving ecumenical and interfaith. And we will join together with brothers and sisters and siblings, who pray to God in different ways, but who share with us all a common humanity created by one creator. This weekend we join with them, and as we do so I would invite you to join in that prayer in your congregations and personally. But I wanted to share with you a prayer that was composed for this weekend, jointly composed by Lutherans and Episcopalians, for the feast of Pentecost in the midst of pandemic.

God of all power and love,
we give thanks for your unfailing presence
and the hope you provide in times of uncertainty and loss.
Send your Holy Spirit to enkindle in us your holy fire.
Revive us to live as Christ’s body in the world:
a people who pray, worship, learn,
break bread, share life, heal neighbors,
bear good news, seek justice, rest and grow in the Spirit.
Wherever and however we gather,
unite us in common prayer and send us in common mission,
that we and the whole creation might be restored and renewed,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all, the entire human family in those almighty hands of love.

Interfaith Remembrance

An invitation to Episcopalians to join in an interfaith remembrance of all who have lost their lives to COVID-19

May 22, 2020

From the Presiding Bishop (Video and text)

 

“On the last weekend in May, The Episcopal Church is joining with other faith traditions (Jewish, Muslim, and Christians who are Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical) in remembrance of all who have lost their lives to COVID-19. All are invited to offer prayers of grief, of lament, of support, for those who have died, for their loved ones and all who grieve, and for the healing for the human family and our world at this time.

A number of faith leaders came together this week, and decided that the last weekend in May, we would invite members of our various congregations to offer prayers of grief, of lament, of support for those who have died, for their loved ones and all who grieve, and for the healing of our nation and our world at this time. And so, in the last weekend of May, which is the weekend of Pentecost, I would invite us, as the Episcopal Church, and all of our congregations, in ways that are appropriate to our communities, to offer to join with Jews, Muslims, Christians who are Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical, who have decided to come together to pray for those who have died, and for all of us who grieve, and to pray for the healing of our nation.

You can do this in any way that’s appropriate, as part of the prayers of the people, very simple part of the prayers of the people, or in some other way that is appropriate and fitting for your community. But however you do it, let us pray to the Lord our God, that he may hear us, that he may hear our hurts, and that God may heal our land.

God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.”- Bishop Curry

ENS – One way Episcopalians can incorporate the gravity of the pandemic into their worship is by praying a new collect, composed by a team of Episcopalians and Lutherans, called “A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit Among the People of God.”

Written “to unite us in common prayer and revive us for common mission” during this crisis in the spirit of Pentecost, Curry and his Lutheran counterpart, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, invite congregations to pray it from Pentecost through the first Sunday in September. In addition to expressing a shared desire for renewal in a troubling time, the collect also commemorates nearly 20 years of full communion between The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The collect will be used in Washington National Cathedral’s Pentecost service, during which Curry will preach.

One way Episcopalians can incorporate the gravity of the pandemic into their worship is by praying a new collect, composed by a team of Episcopalians and Lutherans, called “A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit Among the People of God.”

Written “to unite us in common prayer and revive us for common mission” during this

A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit Among the People of God

God of all power and love,
we give thanks for your unfailing presence
and the hope you provide in times of uncertainty and loss.
Send your Holy Spirit to enkindle in us your holy fire.
Revive us to live as Christ’s body in the world:
a people who pray, worship, learn,
break bread, share life, heal neighbors,
bear good news, seek justice, rest and grow in the Spirit.
Wherever and however we gather,
unite us in common prayer and send us in common mission,
that we and the whole creation might be restored and renewed,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Show Us Your Mugs!

We see all kinds of things in Zoom worship:  coffee mugs and plates of toasts, dogs waiting to go out, endless cats walking past the camera.   We’re borrowing an idea from Father Tim Schenk, who invited his parish to hold up their “mugs” at Sunday worship. For Pentecost we want to see your “mug”.

We want a photo of your mug in front of your mug – send to the church office. We’ll be posting a random selection in the e-news, creating a page here on the website, posting a few on our Facebook page.

Share your mug!

Sunday after the Ascension

May 24, 2020 The Rev. Joe Cochran

The Gospel: John 17:1-11

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

”I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

Mother’s Day Homily – Joe Cochran+

The Gospel: John 14:1-14

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

Optional parts of the readings are set off in square brackets.The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.