Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I write to you at a moment of tension, anxiety and frustration.

We have all seen the headlines. Many are suffering: suffering emotionally, psychologically, economically and spiritually. A global pandemic; videos that show a white Minneapolis police officer, his knee on the neck of a black man who dies in custody; cities are on fire.

These events touch me deeply. I spent a substantial part of my life as a criminal trial attorney and prosecutor. It was during that time of my life that the words of St. Paul set my heart on fire and I became convinced that the law cannot save us, that no elected official or Congress or judge can ultimately set us free and release us from bondage. No particular legislative policy or program is going to solve our deepest besetting issues of human fallenness and sin.

The most important work is that to which you and I are called: Prayer and the sharing of Christian hope. These are the work of the Church.

It is the saving grace and mercy of God as we know Him in Jesus Christ our Lord that will cut our bonds and release us, giving us the freedom for which we have been created. It is that conviction which has led us in this Diocese to our ongoing commitment to prison ministry and criminal justice reform. It is His healing power that will destroy coronavirus. It is His mercy that will bring peace to the hearts of our cities. It is His love that replace our racism and hatred.

In Romans, Chapter 5, Paul paints a picture of humanity caught up in a whirlwind of sickness, anxiety, sin and despair, the winds blowing harder and harder, catching us up in a maelstrom of brokenness and death. But God in His mercy responds. Paul says, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” The increase in the goodness of God outpaces evil and, ultimately, defeats it.

At moments such as this, it is that promise of the love and mercy of God escalating ever more to which we hold fast and which we proclaim.

It was in just such a moment as this that St. Francis gave us this prayer:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Please join me this day in prayer for all of those touched by the headlines. Join me in prayer for our nation and our world. And join me with St. Francis in praying that God may make us, truly, instruments of His peace .

The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard