A Thanksgiving prayer and reflection

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one is honored all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:26

My dear sisters and brothers in the Diocese of California, as we are here on eve of Thanksgiving, we need the eyes and the heart of God in order to comprehend what St. Paul wrote to the young, small Christian community in Corinth so many centuries ago. When tragedy strikes a small, tight-knit community the shared grief is almost instantaneous, touching us all. Likewise, when honor and joy come to members of our local Christian communities, we all feel our hearts lightened.

This is a moment of global and regional suffering and hope. In our vast state, so much larger in many ways than many nations, many people, especially the poor suffer under the ongoing drought. California is a state where immigration and race are acute issues, and there will be people in California on Thanksgiving Day who will face the threat of detention and the breakup of families; there will be people of color who face suspicion, hostility, and violence because of how they were born, how they were created.

Sheila and I will be celebrating a joyous wedding in one of our congregations on Saturday morning, between two men, one ordained who could not have been married only a short time ago. It will be a moment of great rejoicing that will be felt throughout that vibrant congregation, and amplified by such marriages in most of our country.

Immediately after the ceremony we will go to San Francisco International Airport to go to Paris to take part in the United Nations Climate Change summit. This is the 21st such summit and the one with the greatest potential for genuine change. This is also the first summit at which The Episcopal Church will have an official delegation. I’m honored to serve on that delegation. Our diocese has, in fact, two of the five delegates going to Paris — the Very Rev. Mark Richardson, dean of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific will also be going.

The hope this summit promises must be seen in the context of headlong, worldwide environmental degradation. Once again, the scale of both rejoicing and sorrowing seems beyond human ability.

May our Thanksgiving prayer, then, be a prayer of trust and commitment. Let us trust God, who comprehends and pervades all to hold our communal suffering and our joys; and let us commit to do what the Holy Spirit leads us to do in the alleviation of suffering, so that in the fullness of time all might rejoice and find God’s rest.

 

Marc Andrus

Bishop, Diocese of California