Gentle, Firm, Persistent Hope

by | May 2, 2019

Jesus said to him a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

John 21:17


Rabbi Bruce Lustig of Washington Hebrew Congregation called to invite me to attend their Shabbat service this Friday. As your bishop, I’m honored to be a witness to interfaith solidarity in response to recent attacks on Jews, Christians, and Muslims in their houses of worship. Then on Sunday afternoon, Rabbi Lustig will join me and Dean Hollerith at Washington National Cathedral alongside Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu leaders as we host  An Interfaith Service of Prayer and Remembrance for the People of Sri Lanka.  

There is a familiar cadence to these gatherings that can weary the soul. Yet Rabbi Lustig said something to me that helped put our prayers in a wider perspective.

“You will love this week’s Shabbat service,” he said. “It will be a joyful and uplifting gathering to remind us of God’s goodness, even as we mourn the dead and wounded. For that is what we must do in light of these atrocities. We’re the ones called to keep our eyes focused on God, and to allow our hearts to be filled with His love. Only then can we persevere in the hard work of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.”

His words resonated with thoughts I’ve had since Easter Sunday, the day when Christians celebrate, with all the joy we can muster, God’s power to bring life out of death and joy from sorrow. Even on that day, we had to hold in our hearts all that is amiss in our lives and in the world. Still, we gathered and will continue to gather, to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and allow our hearts to be filled with this presence, so that we might persevere in his way of love.  

I’m beginning to think of resurrection faith as a form of resistance–a gentle, firm, and persistent hope in a different kind of world where God’s love prevails. Resurrection faith is both our promise and our path. As Presiding Bishop Curry reminded us in his Easter message  ours is a Hallelujah Anyhow faith.

And so as an ambassador for Christ and as your bishop, I will gather with our interfaith and ecumenical friends this weekend, as we turn our gaze toward God’s love in the face of the world’s sorrow and renew our commitment to live as witnesses to that love. Doing so, I am reminded of my continual need to gather with you and others in unapologetic celebration of all that God makes possible for us in Christ and of Christ’s loving presence among us, so that we might continue in the gentle, firm, and persistent work for God’s kingdom to be realized on earth.