We Need Some Crazy Christians!

Bishop Curry and his fans

Bishop Michael Curry and his fans. Photo by Val Hymes

The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, bishop of North Carolina, preached at the community Eucharist this morning on the feast day celebrating Harriet Beecher Stowe. (http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2012/07/07/north-carolina-bishop-michael-curry-preaches-at-convention-eucharist/) Using Mark 3: 10-21 he noted that those who heard Jesus speak and saw what he was doing, thought he was crazy and he was! And, Bishop Curry said, “those who would follow in his footsteps, those who would be his disciples are called, and summoned, and challenged to be just as crazy as he is!” Crazy Christians who will not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. Crazy Christians who will be servants for Christ. Curry suggested that, “it is our calling to be different.  It is to love when it is easier to hate. To give and not to count the cost. To speak when others would be silent. To stand up when it is more tempting to sit down.  To stand up, stand up for Jesus.  Stand up for his love, to stand up for his goodness, to stand up for his compassion, to stand up until the nightmare of this world is overcome by God’s dream for it. We need some crazy Christians.”

(And might I add we need more crazy preachers to follow in the preaching footsteps of Rev. Curry. We need to be the kind of preachers that people want to hear from, who are excited to hear from and come to our churches to hear from! We need some crazy preachers!)

At a ministry panel as part of the Young Adult Festival, four crazy Christians spoke to us about their calls and journeys of ministry. All of them were crazy enough to listen to where God was calling them and crazy enough to follow.  The Rev. Caro Hall is crazy enough to have come out as a lesbian, discerned a calling to the priesthood and accepted the invitation to be president of INTEGRITY, the Episcopal Church’s national and leading grassroots voice for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Episcopal Church and our equal access to its rites. Kim Robey is crazy enough to speak out for gender justice and women’s empowerment all over the globe and become the Executive Director of Anglican Women’s Empowerment.  She leads other crazy women and men in standing up and speaking out for the equal rights and treatment of women and girls against world powers who have a vested interest in maintaining the unjust status quo. The Rev. Matthew J. Moretz is crazy enough to have created  ”Father Matthew Presents,” a series of video blogs focusing on issues of faith and ministry from the perspective of an Episcopal priest.  The series is a close-up view of the Episcopal Church in the 21st century.  Father Matthew seeks to present the treasures of Christianity one video at a time and is crazy enough to put is face and his message of “what is awesome about the Episcopal church” out there on the internet for the world to see and hear the good news of God in Jesus Christ. And Larry Bourgeois is crazy enough to be working with the Church to develop Fresh Expressions of ministry and “third-place communities” for people to gather to explore their faith and their doubts and build relationships with God and with each other.  He is crazy enough to say, “hey, maybe we can form communities right where people already are, like coffee shops and bookstores. Instead of demanding that they come to us, to Church, let’s go to them.”

May we follow the crazy example of those saints who have gone before us like Harriet Beecher Stowe. May we be crazy Christians who don’t try and bring God to people but help them recognize that God is already in their midst. May we be crazy Christians who come out as who they truly are.  May we be crazy Christians who welcome all to the table.  May we be crazy Christians who not only say they believe the crazy things that Jesus said, but do the crazy things that Jesus did. Like love their neighbor.  And their enemy.  And their self.  And God. May we be crazy Christians who Incarnation the crazy love of God in all we do and say and are, every single day.

– The Rev. Canon Sara L. Shisler

Own it!

This is my first General Convention and I am blessed to be attending as part of the Young Adult Festival.  For the last three conventions the Young Adult festival has allowed people between the ages of 18-30 to engage fully in the workings of GC while also creating a space to make connections with other young adults and process the events of the convention within that community.  The Church has affirmed the presence of youth and young adults in its midst and committed to grow these valuable ministries.  It is wonderful to have our Church body recognize the integral role that the younger generations play in the life and work of the church NOW and not only in the distant future.  Finally, our ideas, our sense of mission and our leadership is being recognized as significant and determinative of what kind of body we, as a church, are and will be in the twenty-first century.
That being said it is an equally exciting and necessary part my own formation as a young adult leader in the church, and the future of our church as a whole, to learn from and listen to  those members and leaders with more experience, wisdom and history. I have learned so much in just the first two days and I am so grateful to our delegates and senior delegates for their patience with me as I learn the deeper nuances of our church’s polity, politics, power struggles and prayerful presence.  This is an exciting and somewhat scary time for our Church where much is changing and needs to change as we respond to the realities we find ourselves in. So far I have been impressed with the civility of the process and how kind and respectful everyone is being to one other, even as they disagree.  Sure there are those struggling with fear; perhaps we each are in our own way.  Yet my experience is that in a broad sense we are intending to stand in a place of hope and not fear. The church has big and important business to do over these ten days.  The love and passion that people have for the Church and the work of God in the world, even amidst disagreements over how it should be done, is heartwarming and encouraging. I am finding myself proud of our Church and hopeful for our future. We are facing the uncertain future together, honestly and with focused, prayerful discernment on where God is calling us to go and who God is calling us to be in this new day.  We are striving to claim who we are- the people of God- and owning who we are, what we know and what we don’t know, our strengths and our failings.  The first night of the Young Adult Festival our organizers shared that in planning our time together the theme emerged of “own it!” Own who we are as a young leaders and seekers in the Church.  Own who we are as Episcopalians, who we are as Christians and who we are as followers of Jesus seeking to live out God’s call together to bring the kin-dom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

The Rev. Canon Sara L. Shisler