I am just back from a week in the NY/CT area, visiting family and friends. (I am starting to think of this time of transitional unemployment as an enforced vacation.) One of the events I attended in NYC was the 50th Anniversary celebration of a friend's ordination to the priesthood. There was an elaborate Eucharist with con-celebrants from Australia and England in attendance as well as two retired bishops. I would not be a priest if it were not for the support, care and kindness of this wonderful man whose ministry we celebrated this past Sunday.
Edgar's growth during his time as a priest these past 50 years is a remarkable example of courage and leadership and determination. His life's work of aiding and welcoming all who came in the doors of the churches in which he served is an example of a living out of the Gospel we hear about today: Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away. Edgar's growth into advocating the ordination of women as priests and bishops and of gay and lesbian people too, cost him: cost him people he thought were friends, the respect of associates and peers. But that did not stop him from living out Jesus' teachings.
Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty, Jesus says today. Whoever.....Anyone...... This is a common and repeated teaching of Jesus.... he says it over and over again. And I cannot help but wonder why we, as a people, as a church, so often are blinded by prejudice, Why we succumb to those base human desires of building walls and excluding those who are different. Jesus' teachings on that are clear. What else is clear is the truth that there is a cost: Jesus' life and ministry are proof of that. Edgar's life and ministry are too. But that cost is part of the deal we accept when we walk into that loving and open embrace of God's love. Being exclusionary is just plain wrong and is deeply sinful.
We all need to push back when we come face to face with this type of behavior.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.