Updated: Dec 1, 2021
In his letter to his parish, so to speak, in Rome, Paul appeals to its members to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-what is good." (12:2) So it is our hope as the body of Christ in the world in our words and deeds, God-willing, to do and continue to do what is good. And 'what is good?' the prophet Micah asks and answers, but "to do justice and to love loving-kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (6:8).
As a body, at Christ Church, we’ve been up to a lot of “good” this summer, so much so that it might be hard to keep track: worship flourished outdoors, our choir even began to sing again, volunteers and sponsors put on Concerts on the Hill, members collaborated with the town to mark our commitment to anti-racism, the Buildings & Grounds committee got serious about projects near and far, AA started back up, the Gardening Committee beautified our grounds, the Nursery School Camp kept kids engaged, members joined with St. John’s Bridgeport turning weapons into gardening tools and symbols of love, the Vestry kept meeting and planning, the Racial Justice Committee hosted a movie with the library, and the youth of the parish collaborated with the library and GLSEN-CT to host an inclusive story hour for children! All in the midst of the ever changing realities of the pandemic. We are small, but we sure are mighty with God.
A few of you have asked to learn more about the public acts named above, and so I want to take this opportunity to address two in particular. You may have noticed the lawn signs posted at our entrances, stating that "Hate Has No Home Here." We were invited to display the signs as part of a town-wide and national initiative to oppose racism and hate of all forms and readily agreed to post them when asked. To address a concern about the design as seen from the road, we ordered signs with the same words, but a subtler presentation, and we’ll leave them up through Labor Day to join with our neighbors.
Some have wondered whether the signs might be partisan or whether signs are needed to suggest our stance against the sin of hate and racism. Though there’s room for discussion about the latter question, certainly we need to be unequivocal about the first. God's love is non-partisan. Our church is non-partisan (among us are Republicans, Democrats, Green Party members, and the apolitical alike). The makers of the signs are nonpartisan. And our opposition to sin and evil, too, is non-partisan. In Paul’s letter he reminds us that "as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body" (12:3).
Together, as a parish we reflect the diverse creation of God and the one body: and this is good! And together, using our many diverse gifts, we are called individually and collectively, as our baptismal covenant calls us, to "resist evil" and "seek justice.” Let it continue to be so not merely in word (or signs) but also in deed.
Towards that end, I also want to celebrate the Inclusive Story Hour planned by the youth of the parish and held last week. Our teens wanted to provide an event for the community that would help its children feel loved in all of their diversity. Towards this end, they collaborated with GLSEN Connecticut, the Public Library, and Drag Artist Kiki Lucia to host an inclusive story hour for children ages 3-8. In addition to snacks and playtime, children gathered to hear five stories celebrating gender and racial, ethnic, family, and general diversity. Our guest Kiki dressed in rainbows and sparkles and read, too, offering all in attendance an unabashed and fabulous example of self-acceptance and love (modeled after a notable nonprofit’s efforts). The event was a smashing success! Several families and about 10 children were in attendance. Parents in attendance asked me to share their gratitude with all of you for providing such a positive and affirming event for the town. Please help me thank Siobhan, Fiona, Aidan, Trevor, Fallon, Colin (and Dawn, Andy, Ann, and Claire) for helping to make it happen!
In one of the books we read, Neither, listeners were invited to imagine a Land of All. The book begins with a Land of This and That where there are only blue bunnies and yellow birds. When the main character is born who is neither fully bunny nor bird, they’re not accepted and set out on a search for a home. When they find others with differences, they together accept the love that is offered in the Land of All! These lovely children’s stories provided repeated allegories and reminders for how we might actually love one another as God loves us and our neighbor as ourselves and offered both windows into the experiences of others and mirrors for children to see themselves reflected. Imagine if our church truly succeeded in being a Land of All. After the event, Kiki shared that she had felt gladenned by our event, as elsewhere at a similar event, she had faced threats of violence. She said that even though she was scared, she stopped to talk with the protestors and through her loving response and engagement, some of the protestors actually had crossed the lines to bring their kids to listen. From her witness, they had recognized her example as one of human beauty and self-expression and a message of self-acceptance and love for all of God’s children that our hurting world and its children direly need. It’s my hope in recounting it here that Kiki’s story might help to model for our youth and children--and us-- the courage needed to follow and the unimaginable possibilities for transformation along the way when we walk in and with and through Love. With Christ, we can do infinitely more than we can even begin to imagine.
In closing, in gratitude for all the “good” works your hands and hearts have offered this summer, and in preparation for the school year ahead, I ask that we recommit ourselves as a church, the one many differently membered, body of Christ, to keep doing that which Paul exhorted, "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 9-21)
As always, should you have any questions or ideas about any of the above please don’t hesitate to reach out!