Dear People of God in the Diocese of California,
I write you an Easter message this year on Holy Saturday, the moment we stop and pause, feel the losses in our own lives, in the lives of those we love, and the losses in the world. The picture on the front page of the New York Times this morning is of a grief-ravaged relative of one of the teenagers who was lost in the Korean ferry disaster — her solid, unrelieved grief is what we touch on Holy Saturday, as a small group of friends, followers and students of Jesus of Nazareth are enmired in the fresh experience of his horrific execution.
What I want to say to you all is that I see so many ways that Episcopalians in the Bay Area live true to the light of Jesus’ resurrection and to the night of pain from which this resurrection emerges. You give yourselves unstintingly to the relief of poverty, pain, suffering and loss in our communities.
On Maundy Thursday I was privileged to be part of a foot-washing ceremony for undocumented immigrants at St. John the Evangelist in the Mission District of San Francisco. The congregation and vicar had done a beautiful job of making the large community that gathered from the area welcome, and making the space where these DREAMers and other immigrants would be accorded the dignity of having their feet washed beautiful. I will share with you the reflection of one young adult who attended the ceremony, a young person who has been raised as an Episcopalian:
I just want to send a note of gratitude for inviting me to the foot washing service at St. John the Evangelist yesterday. You might not have seen me as I was sitting in the back, taking everything in. It has been a little while since being immersed in a community of faith as I was at St. John’s, and the combination of the community and the focused attention on the pressing moral issue of deportation brought up some deep emotions for me. I wanted to say hello after it was all over, but I had an overwhelming impulse to go for a contemplative walk through the Mission. Yesterday was quite the day of reflection.
The dedicated action of the people of St. John the Evangelist and the inner reflection of this young adult are both evocative of the spirit of this diocese that doesn’t only rejoice in the new life we’ve been given in Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, but remembers the pain of those who suffer in the world, those for whom Jesus was willing to suffer and die. I extend my gratitude and thanks and respect to you all.
May God bless you all with the transforming love of Christ.