Isaiah 43:1-7; Ephesians 4:1-6, 25-5:2

So where are we now?

We have come, at last, to the end of one of the most bitterly contested national elections this country has ever seen.  For many of us, finally naming a winner doesn’t bring the resolution we hoped it would; it feels like we’re all on the losing side in this contest.  We are like two battered and weary fighters standing in the middle of the ring, faces bruised and bleeding, bent over with exhaustion, waiting for the referee to raise the arm of one of us.  Our country is as divided as ever.  Our political leaders are locked in seemingly irresolveable conflict that limits their effectiveness at home and diminishes our influence abroad.  We are facing the largest public health crisis the world has ever known, with the numbers of new cases soaring to unprecedented heights in half of our states.  We’re tired – of this pandemic, its restrictions, and all the pain and loss it has brought.  We’re weary – of this toxic political deadlock, of the vilifying that characterizes election campaigns, of the threat of violence and lawsuits, of the seeming intractability of systemic racism, and of so much more.

What message of hope can the Church possibly offer?

Our answer begins with a reminder of who we are.  We are human beings, created in the image of God, knowing ourselves to be loved by God in all our diversity.  We are people who belong to God, who have been invited to live in a relationship with love with our Creator, who have been forgiven and redeemed by Christ, and who can reflect God’s glory in the world.  The prophet tells us that God has called us by name, and we are precious and honored in God’s sight: every one of us.  There is not a single human being that God does not love. Read More

Br. Mark BrownEph. 4:1-6/Psalm 113/Mat. 19:27-29

Today is St. Hilda’s day. What we know about Hilda of Whitby (c. 614-680) comes to us from St. Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History of the English People”, which he finished in about 731. St. Hilda was the founding abbess of Whitby Abbey, the site of a pivotal Synod of the English church.  It was this Synod in 664 that strengthened the English church’s connection with the Roman church. Hilda was known for her devotion and grace and kindness; she was also recognized as an able administrator, sought out by kings and princes for her wise counsel.

I’m inclined to put St. Hilda in the category of “practical mystics”, along with St. Teresa of Avila, who founded many monasteries. And I would put St. Paul himself in this category.  We might think of “practical mystics” as individuals who have a keen sense of the presence of God in and through all things and take on the practical work of building up the church.  In building up the church we deal with real people in real time in real situations; with all the confusion and brokenness and incompleteness of real people. Read More