My dear Siblings in Christ,
We live in anxious times. I have received emails from folk that I do not know, about the upcoming election. Frankly, I have replied to all that I do not personally know and explicitly asked them to not send their personal opinions to me regardless of their perspective or position on issues or candidates. One person responded with ire and vitriolic castigation for depriving him of his right to free speech. He noted that in all the churches and denominations that he had sent his missive, I was the first to ask to be removed from his mailing list. I suspect that others just ignored him. He did agree to remove my name with a summary judgement of my soul and my Diocese. To be honest, I just don’t want to hear from outside my Diocese or the Episcopal Church. I did, however, say a prayer for the gentleman.
Now, I am hearing from clergy and lay members of the Diocese. Some are upset with President Trump and the way he has handled the COVID-19 crisis in the nation and most recently in the White House itself. Others are fearful to say that they support the President because of the response from their fellow Episcopalians. Many of us are fatigued by the words of anger and lack of respect. There is worry about the future. Life is weighed down by “stay at home orders,” wearing masks, social distancing, illness, and fear of the pandemic and its consequences both physically and economically.
Our feelings are real. We can feel overwhelmed. We can become numb. In my prayers this morning, I was reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Writings Selected with an Introduction by Robert Coles (Orbis Books, 1998). On pages 90 and 91, there is his “Advent Letter to the Pastors of the Confessing Church” dated November 29, 1942. Now, we certainly are not suffering under an authoritarian government like the Confessing Church members in Nazi Germany or facing the hardships of years of war, but there can arise a sense of helplessness and sorrow. Bonhoeffer reminds us that as people of faith, we do not need to carry the burden of the whole world. He writes: