By the Grace of God and the people consenting
The Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop of Washington
to the Sacred Order of Deacons
in Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
Jessica Amber Ault
Rosa Luisa Briones
Sally Ann Ethelston
Martha Lynn Jenkins
Alethea Smith Long-Green
Francisco de Jesús Serrano
Thomas Roy Sinclair
Melissa Jo Sites
Nancy Starr Stockbridge
on Saturday, November 12, 2022
The Feast of Charles Simeon
Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW,
Washington, District of Columbia
Your prayers and presence are requested.
Clergy: Red Stoles
Please click this link to watch the livestream
En el nombre del Dios, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo. In the name of God, the Creator, the Christ and the Holy Spirit. My name is Anne-Marie Jeffery and it is my pleasure to serve this diocese as your Canon for Congregational Vitality. I will be speaking a little in Spanish, but most of the sermon will be in English.
Me llamo Anne-Marie Jeffery y sirvo a la diócesis como Canoniga para la Vitalidad Congregacional. Hoy es un día muy importante. Hoy ustedes declararán su amor a Dios. Hoy declararán su compromiso de seguir a Jesús – no de forma privada, sino en voz alta, frente a Dios y a todos nosotros.
Hace mucha diferencia cuando decimos algo en voz alta. Yo creo que esto nos cambia. Cuando te das cuenta de que amas a alguien, y llega el momento en que estás listo para decir “te amo” a la otra persona, algo ha cambiado en tu relación con esa persona, esa relación se ha hecho más profunda y fuerte. Y cuando tú dices “te amo”, tú cambias, así como también cambia la persona que recibe tus palabras.
Today is a very important day. Today you will declare your love for God. Today you will declare your commitment to following Jesus – not privately, but out loud in front of God and in front of all of us.
It makes a difference when you say something out loud. I believe it changes us. You know when you find that you love someone, and you get to the point where you are ready to say “I love you” to the other person.
When that happens, something has changed about the relationship. It has most likely gotten deeper and stronger. And then when you say “‘I love you” to the person, you are changed as is the person receiving the words.
You might be looking through the service bulletin for the place where you say “I love you” to God and you won’t find those exact words but the words we do say are those of love because in promising to follow Jesus, we are declaring our love for God.
Hoy preguntará si reafirmas tu renuncia al mal, y tu respuesta será: Así lo haré. Después te preguntará si quieres renovar tu compromiso con Jesucristo. Y tu respuesta será “Así lo haré, y con la gracia de Dios lo seguiré como mi Salvador y Señor”. Estas palabras son palabras de amor.
Today you will be asked if you reaffirm your renunciation of evil, your response will be – “I do.” You will then be asked to renew your commitment to Jesus Christ? Your response will be – “I do, and with God’s grace I will follow him as my Savior and Lord.” These sound like words of love to me.
You might say, Well, God knows I love God. So why do I need to say it? We say it because when we say these words out loud, I believe we are changed no matter if we have come for confirmation, reception or affirmation. To have witnesses to our words makes this action even more powerful, because those who are here today will support us and be reminded of their own love of God – their own commitment to Christ.
If you know anything about relationships, saying the words is just the beginning. This is where our gospel can give us some direction. Our love of God requires attention, faithfulness and especially persistence. This is not an easy road, this commitment that is so wonderfully described in our baptismal promises – to be faithful in worship and in the prayers, to return to God when we have strayed away, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, to serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being. All this requires persistence and the woman in our gospel is all about persistence.
Amar a Dios requiere atención, fidelidad y persistencia, que es lo que el Evangelio presenta esta mañana. Hay una mujer que necesita justicia y su única opción es este juez que no tiene temor de Dios ni respeta a las personas. No hay nada que lo mueva a ayudarla, excepto las acciones de esta mujer, así que ella no lo dejará tranquilo. Debido a su persistencia, el juez provee justicia, porque él no quiere ser molestado más por ella. Nosotros también debemos ser persistentes en nuestro seguimiento a Dios.
The woman in our gospel needs justice and her only option is this judge who does not fear God or respect people. There is nothing that will move him to help her except her own action and so she will not leave him alone. Because of her persistence, he gives her justice because he does not want to be worn out by her asking.
We have to be careful here. God is not like this unjust judge. We don’t have to wear God out to be in relationship with God. God is not a disinterested distant judge. God longs for us and God will grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night. We are the ones who need to be persistent to perceive and to receive the gifts that God is giving us.
Many of us have been persistent in prayer, in worship, in proclaiming the Good News, in seeking Christ in all people and in fighting for justice and we have not received the answer or results we have wanted. We wonder if God is showing up for us. We do not understand.
La escritora Debi Thomas dijo una vez sobre la persistencia en la oración que cuando ella ora como esta mujer viuda, con persistencia y de todo corazón, algo sucede en ella y su corazón se hace más fuerte.
One of my favorite writers, Debi Thomas addresses this work of persistence when it comes to prayer. She writes, “What happens when we pray like the widow? What is prayer for? I can only speak from experience, but I know that when I persist in prayer – really persist, with a full heart, over a long period of time – something happens to me. My sense of who I am, to whom I belong, what really matters in this life, and why – these things mature and solidify. My heart grows stronger. It becomes less fragile and flighty. Once in a long while, it even soars. And sometimes – here’s the biggest surprise – these good and substantive things happen even when I don’t receive the answer I’m praying for.1
This persistence is needed not just in prayer, but in all of our life with God. I was confirmed when I was quite young – 11 years old. At the time, I was very serious about my commitment to God and the promises I was making. When I got into my 20s, I found myself in and out of church and not sure about my relationship with God. It was during a period of not going to church that I came to realize that I would never find what I was seeking in a relationship with God unless I showed up. I had to persist in coming to worship, praying, studying scripture and living my life as one who follows Jesus. Over time, what I sought came to be and I remember in my late 20s coming before the bishop in a service very similar to this one for affirmation of my vows. I suspect that many of you already have your own story of persistence with God even if you are at the beginning of the journey.
I ask you, as you make your declaration of love for God this day, as you reaffirm your commitment to following Jesus Christ, will you persist in your following of Jesus like the widow persisted with the judge?
Will you worship persistently like the widow, even when life gets in the way? Will you proclaim the good news like the widow when you are afraid to say the words? Will you seek and serve Christ in the most challenging of people? Will you continue to fight for justice when the way gets hard?
When we persist over time, our relationship with God deepens and what starts with saying words of love out loud sinks deep into our hearts and changes us, making us stronger and closer to the people Jesus needs us to be in this broken world.
Los invito a todos ustedes aquí hoy, no solo a quienes han venido para ser confirmados, recibidos o afirmados, a decir las palabras de amor a Dios en voz alta juntos. Recuerden la persistencia que se necesita para seguir a Cristo. Sepan que Dios nos busca en nuestro peregrinar, y nuestros corazones serán fortalecidos y elevados por aquel que nos ama más de lo que podemos entender.
I invite all of us here, not just those coming for confirmation, reception and affirmation, to say the words of love to God out loud together. Remember the persistence needed to follow Christ. Know that God longs for us and in this journey we will find our hearts strengthened and lifted up by the one who loves us more than we will ever understand.
1The Bothersome Widow from Journey With Jesus webzine
“Becoming a church that our children and grandchildren will love to attend…”
As Bishop Mariann reminded us earlier in September, embedded in our diocesan strategic plan is an audacious goal to close the generational gap in our congregations, for all of our faith communities to become compelling places for our children, grandchildren and their peers, inspiring them to live Jesus-centered lives. We believe getting to that place will take time, creativity, and a willingness to try new things–including getting outside of our churches and providing opportunities for people to encounter the sacred. The poetry event we describe below is one such exploration. – The Rev. Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery
This autumn, poetry is coming to Northeast DC as the Episcopal Diocese of Washington welcomes the Rev. Dr. Travis Helms, founder and curator of the LOGOS Poetry Collective, to facilitate a liturgically infused reading at the launch of a new arts-based ministry in Brookland.
Helms launched LOGOS in 2018 with a view towards cultivating a space where persons of all faiths and none could build connections with the divine and each other through shared encounters with poetry. The project later merged with EcoTheo Collective, a nonprofit founded to “celebrate wonder, enliven conversations, and inspire commitments to ecology, spirituality, and art.”
LOGOS first came to DC in November 2021 via the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts & Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary, where EcoTheo board member Dr. Devon Abts serves as Assistant Director and Visiting Assistant Professor. Abts invited Helms to curate a LOGOS reading as the concluding event for the Luce Center’s “Art of Discernment” project, a major study of arts-based theological education funded by the Templeton Religion Trust. Abts worked closely with Helms to plan the event, which saw a huge crowd turn out to Brookland’s City-State Brewery on a dreary Tuesday evening for a reading with acclaimed poets Jericho Brown and Marilyn Nelson.
Inspired by her experience of LOGOS, Abts–a Brookland resident–began to discern a vision for a new missional project designed to foster creative forms of spiritual nourishment in her community. The Diocese has partnered with her to bring this vision to fruition, and it is fitting that the new project should launch with another LOGOS reading.
All are warmly invited to this liturgically infused reading, which will take place at City-State Brewery on Wednesday, October 19 from 7:00–8:30 p.m., and will feature legendary DC poet and activist E. Ethelbert Miller and emerging talent Kirsten Porter.
The event is free of charge, and food as well as libations will be available for purchase.
The diocesan initiative of congregational renewal and care seeks to intentionally equip, encourage, and empower clergy and laity to claim the fullness of their parish and individual identities. Sometimes historical hurts and pervasive problems hurl clergy and parishioners into a space that is riddled with anxiety, rather than one of grace that is imbued with a positive energy of hope for the future.
Amid these situations, we are often confronted with questions that require deep introspection such as:
- Are you constantly frustrated by your efforts to engage in healthy relationships?
- Does grief overwhelm you in ways that stifle your ability to enjoy life?
- Are you using your faith in practical ways to address major challenges in your life?
The Rev. Canon Robert T. Phillips’ A Space for Grace: Pathways from Brokenness to Beauty invites people on a journey to reflect upon times of personal brokenness using psychological, theological, and relationship-focused lenses. Real-life stories and suggested introspective tools are presented to enable movement from the stalemate of personal brokenness toward pathways that unleash an energized personal beauty.
To learn more, please join us for a book launch and signing party during which Canon Phillips will discuss “why this book and why now.” Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase a copy and have it signed by the author. Those who cannot attend in person are welcome to join virtually.
When: 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., Thursday, September 22
Where: Grace Episcopal Church, 1607 Grace Church Road, Silver Spring, MD. 20910
RSVP: by Tuesday, September 20 using this link (as you RSVP, please indicate if you’ll attend in-person or virtually in the “add a comment” box.)
“My prayer is that this book touches you with a peace that surpasses all understanding and with a hope that leans into your faith in a God who desires to give you a bright future. I look forward to “seeing” you at the launch.” – The Rev. Dr. Robert T. Phillips, Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care
Supporting faith formation leaders is part of my ministry as the Missioner for Faith Formation and Development. Since joining the bishop’s staff six months ago, one of my priorities has been to meet with Christian educators and formation leaders working with children and youth. These conversations informed me about how our leaders are doing and what the landscape of formation ministry for rising generations looks like in our diocese.
When asked what they need right now, leaders responded. “I yearn to feel connected,” one leader said. “I want to learn from my colleagues,” another shared. Other sentiments included a desire to hear what’s happening in the diocese and to learn how folks are engaged in formation ministry as we emerge from the pandemic. Others spoke of just needing a break. “I just want some rest,” a colleague said, “this stuff is hard.”
It is hard. Even before the pandemic, rhythms of life were changing for many of our families. In this climate, the traditional models of Sunday School and Youth Group aren’t always as life-giving as they were in the past. This means that Christian formation leaders, whose ministry is to help form young people as Christians, are shifting their ministerial approach. That takes energy, creativity, and trust in the Holy Spirit.
Communities of support – colleagues in ministry – also help. One of my goals is to create spaces where these communities of colleagues can flourish and feed one another. To this end, the diocese is sponsoring an in-person retreat for formation leaders who work with children and/or youth. Held at the Claggett Center Friday and Saturday, November 4 & 5, the retreat is an opportunity for formation leaders to connect, pray, engage, and refresh. There will be ample time for community building as well as personal retreat space. Participants will stay in private rooms at the Christiane Inn and have access to the center’s beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces, including walking trails and a labyrinth.
Retreat registration opens Thursday, September 1 through the School for Christian Faith and Leadership. Any formation leader in the diocese working with children and/or youth is welcome to participate, but please note that attendance is limited to 20 participants and registration will close once all spots are full. The retreat costs $50 and covers all your expenses for the event. I hope you will join us and be refreshed.
For more information about the retreat or other opportunities to connect with formation leaders, contact The Rev. Amanda Akes-Cardwell.
Please fill out and submit this form if you are interested in attending one of the Annual Giving Campaign workshops in July. We will be in touch with information about how to register closer to the dates.