May 23, 2018

Words have the power to change the world for the better or for the worse. Last week, I watched a man stand with dignity, courage and integrity in the midst of a hallowed space filled with people unaccustomed to passionately delivered rhetoric concerning Jesus Christ. Yet, Bishop Michael Curry knew he was called there to deliver a message to the world—not just a royal couple—and he did so without flinching from the culture immediately surrounding him. He could have recited sermons’ past wedding platitudes, given brief instruction on how difficult marriage can be sometimes, and then sat down. But he didn’t. 

He spoke Love, with a capital L, and the world is still reeling from the shockwave. 

How desperate is this world for a message of Love? Bishop Michael didn’t say anything new to us, per se, about the life-giving and liberating passion of Jesus Christ—we hear that good news every Sunday in some form or another from our preachers, teachers, and friends asking about our lives. Lest we forget, however, we get to experience that community based Love everySunday; most other people in the world view church as something ‘other’ than that which we know to be true. When the Most Rev. Michael spoke to them—the people without Church communities—I have to wonder if those are the first words of Love uttered to broken hearts and longing ears in quite some time. Given the tweets, articles, television interviews and attention his sermon received, I have to pause and thank God for a bigger stage upon which to stand. I also am grateful for the opportunity to expound on that same grace-filled and loving message that perhaps changes hearts and lives more than I (or we) ever knew possible.

When spoken passionately and proclaimed boldly, words can change this world for the better. But there’s another side to that coin: We have to speak them. While unspoken Love lies idle awaiting its turn to be uttered and received, the words of doubt and shame loudly invade the landscape of barren and loveless discourse between neighbors. These negative sentiments plant themselves in the broken hearts of the unloved, the undesirable, and the unwilling. Those seeds of destruction then fester and grow strong roots and stalks, casting shade over an already darkening world.

We have to remember our roles in tending to the lost and lonely, the left behind and longing. Passionate deliverance from desperation and despondency can only occur when we proclaim boldly and Love willingly. How will your words change the world? How can we all do more to create a culture of Love in our immediate spheres of influence? How can we help to breathe Love, speak Love, and carry Love into a suffocating, breathless, and seemingly deaf world? It begins in our everyday speech with one another and with the world around us. We have to remember our baptism and our charge to “respect the dignity of every human being,” while “proclaiming by WORD and deed.” Tell a stranger about the Church, today. Tell them that there’s a place where they’ll be accepted, involved and Loved without judgement. And then, make sure you tell yourself the same thing. I’ll start it for us: I love you. I’m proud to be in community with you. I’m thankful for you. And most importantly, I thank God for putting you in my life. Now, go; be the hands and feet of Jesus. Go, be Love. 

Fr. Sean+