Dear Sisters and brothers in Christ,
Along with countless others across our country and around the world, we have waited through the trial of Derek Chauvin, with increasing anxiety about results and responses, for a judgment by a jury of his peers on his culpability in the alleged murder of George Floyd. As has been affirmed by their verdict, the nine and a half minutes during which he knelt on George Floyd’s neck constituted an act of murder. While it is important to remember that the actions of one police officer do not define the thousands of dedicated and responsible law enforcement officials who risk their lives daily carrying out with integrity their vocation to protect and serve, it is also essential that we recognize how this verdict speaks to a history of inequality, oppression, and fear.
For those who have lost confidence in our justice system, or whose sense of security in law enforcement has long been compromised, the judgment arrived at by the jury in Minneapolis offers, if not a beacon, at least a glimmer of hope. It allows them and all of us to imagine anew that efforts toward reform are both possible and worthwhile.
We speak of hope as a light because it illuminates a way forward. Its value, therefore, can be measured in our willingness to take the next steps in becoming what God dreams for us to be: just, merciful, reconciled to one another and to God, a beloved community, a light to enlighten the nations, our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers – indeed the body of Christ. True hope, whether a glimmer or a beacon, illuminates truths about ourselves as well as it defines a path forward for us.
It is our prayer and our responsibility to embrace that hope and all that it reveals about who we are now and where God is calling us to go, especially as regards our own racial self-awareness and the systemic racism of which we are a part. It is up to us whether this and any hope simply shows us who we are or leads us to the image in which God created us, whether it moves us from emotion to action. The Diocesan Council and the Commission for Racial Justice, newly reconstituted by the last Diocesan Convention, are collaborating to provide leadership and resources to congregations and individuals alike for following that path.
The hope we have received reveals that there is hard and important work before us. I have confidence that, with the companionship, inspiration, and encouragement of these committed bodies, there is much we can and will do. May that hope continue to light our way.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio
Alleluia. Christ is Risen!
This morning, as we began the livestreamed Easter Eucharist from the high altar of Trinity Cathedral, those words echoed out over a completely empty nave. Aside from the clergy, readers, verger, and two recording technicians, all of us spread out in the chancel, the great church was vacant, save of course for the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven. From the devices through which viewers participated, one would not have noticed. The prerecorded music was beautiful and doubtless filled their homes and hearts with the familiar sounds of our Resurrection celebration. The liturgy delivered us to Christ’s sacrifice, which we have been preparing ourselves to join anew throughout the Lenten journey. But looking out past the cameras that were capturing those parts of the service broadcast in real time, the view was striking. No procession. No choir. No communicants. Not even chairs.
At first, the emptiness was a stark reminder of the many losses we have experienced over the last year: the loss of community and regular companionship in our worship and other disciplines of faith; the loss of jobs and security and loved ones to the coronavirus; the loss of confidence in government and the structures of democracy; the loss of respect for one another and common decency in how we live with difference and diversity; the loss of patience, sometimes even with those we hold dear; and the loss of humility that often accompanies the loss of trust in one another.
Yet, as we listened to scripture and teaching, were carried by recorded music, made our intercessions to the divine ear, and offered ourselves in surrender to the Eucharistic sacrifice – as we made our “great thanksgiving” to God for the possibility of new life by dying to the old life – the emptiness of that beautiful room took on a profound and different meaning. It became, itself, a symbol of resurrected life. It became an empty tomb.
In the first of the collects for Easter Day, we pray, “Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection.” Indeed, it is in dying to our sin that we are led out of the tomb of loss into the world where Jesus is already waiting for us, just as he was already in the Galilee awaiting the first disciples after Mary found the tomb empty. He is waiting for us to be his resurrected body doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.
The joy of Christ’s resurrection for which we pray this day is not just in the church, as joyful as that is for many of us, and especially on Easter Day. Rather, it is everywhere we care for those whom God loves and for whom Jesus died. He rose again “that he may be in us and we in him,” as the Eucharistic prayer proclaims, and the joy of his resurrection is in how we incarnate his love every day.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio