FROM THE BISHOP:
Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Just as we enter the weekend during which we honor The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the President of the United States offers graphic proof that racism and bigotry continue to infect the hearts and minds of the people of this nation. Speaking to a group of lawmakers in private, Mr. Trump questioned why this country should “take in persons from ‘sh*thole countries’ like Haiti and Nigeria. Although Mr. Trump has subsequently denied he made these statements, it is clear he did make them. As Fox News reports, “Despite Trump’s denial, multiple sources have confirmed what was said, and the White House did not deny it overnight.” Mr. Trump’s comments should be condemned by all people of good will in the strongest terms.
The Diocese of New Jersey rightly prides itself on its wide diversity. Among our committed faithful are persons from a wide range of African countries, including Nigeria, as well as from Haiti. (In fact, we have just recently welcomed Fr. Joseph Hyvenson, a native born Haitian, to serve as Priest-in-Charge of St. Mary’s in Pleasantville). These faithful persons not only bless us; they bless the communities of which they are a part and they bless this nation.
Beyond the President’s appalling comments, racism is manifested by its real effects on people in New Jersey and across the nation. This past September, The Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey and the Structural Racism and Poverty Working Group issued a comprehensive report titled The Uncomfortable Truth: Racism, Injustice and Poverty in New Jersey which detailed how racism cripples a significant portion of our citizenry. Racism continues to stack the deck against people of color in terms of poverty, housing, economic justice and employment, unfair treatment by the criminal justice system, education and more. This report should be “read, marked and inwardly digested” by us all.
In the final speech he ever gave, I See the Promised Land, which he delivered in Mason Temple in Memphis Tennessee on April 3, 1969, Dr. King invited his listeners and all people to “develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.” Can you imagine if we were all “dangerously unselfish?”
On this weekend, we have an opportunity to open our hearts and minds anew to the call racial justice and reconciliation and to engage in some “dangerous unselfishness.” There will be many local Martin Luther King, Jr. observance activities across our communities. I encourage everyone to participate in whatever ways you can. Take time this weekend to read The Uncomfortable Truth: Racism, Injustice and Poverty in New Jersey. Read or listen on YouTube to one of Dr. King’s speeches. I See the Promised Land will bring you to tears.
I am grateful for the work of Deacon Debi Clark and the members of Youth Council who, over the past couple of years, have a hosted a Day of Service at Trinity Cathedral on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The event will take place again this year from 10:00 until 3:00 PM. It will include a wide range of service activities in which we can all engage: Assembling ditty bags for Seamen’s Church Institute; Crafting knot blankets for Project Linus; Decorating placemats for Meals on Wheels; Making get well cards for Children’s Hospitals; Wrapping cutlery for St. Mary’s, Keansburg, Grace’s Kitchen, Plainfield and Trinity Cathedral Soup Kitchens; Making paracord bracelets for Project Gratitude.
While sponsored by our diocesan youth, this is an event for persons of all ages. This year we will be joined by a wide-range of additional supporters: Princeton YWCA; AmeriCorp Princeton; The College of New Jersey; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Bound Brook; St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Alexandria and Anchor House, Trenton
There will be a Eucharist and the offertory will go to Anchor House of Trenton which works with runaway youth.
It will be a great day. I hope you’ll join us and hope I see you at the Cathedral this Monday.
May the God of peace and justice be with you.
Yours in Christ,
Christmas Message from The Most Reverend Michael Curry Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
A Christmas message from the Presiding Bishop
December 12, 2017 by Rosalind Hughes
From the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs:
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Christmas Message 2017
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry Christmas Message 2017 | Episcopal Church
In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul says,
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new is come.
At a point in that passage, St. Paul says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself,” and he also says at another point in the same passage, “and we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.”
Have you ever gone to the movies or read a story or a novel, and the novel starts with the end, so you know where the story ends, but then the rest of the story or the novel is actually the story behind the story. We know about Christmas. We know about Mary. We know about Joseph. We know about the angels singing Gloria in excelsis deo. We know from our childhood the animals in the stable. We know of the magi who come from afar, arriving around Epiphany, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We know of the angels singing in the heavens, and the star that shown above them. Therein is the story.
But the story behind the story is what St. Paul was talking about. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and Jesus has now given us that same ministry of reconciliation. God was reconciling the world to himself by becoming one of us. The divine became human. God entered history. Eternity became part of time. God was reconciling the world to himself by actually living it himself. In Jesus, God came among us to show us the way, to be reconciled with the God who has created us all and everything that is. And God has likewise come in the person of Jesus, to show us how to be reconciled with each other, as children of the one God who is the Creator of us all. That’s the story behind Christmas.
God is showing us the Way to become God’s children, and as God’s children, brothers and sisters of each other. God is showing us in Jesus how to become God’s family and how to change, and build, and make a world where everybody is a part of that family. Where children don’t go to bed hungry. Where no one has to be lonely. Where justice is real for all and where love is the ultimate law.
Know there is a story behind the story, and it’s a story worth singing about, and giving thanks for, and then living.
One of my favorite writers, the late Howard Thurman, composed a poem many years ago about Christmas, and he says it probably better than I:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
Then the work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace to others,
And alas, to make music in the heart.
The story behind the story is that God so loved the world, and so loves you, and so loves me.
Have a blessed Christmas, a wonderful New Year, and go out and make music in the heart of the world.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Follow the link to find the message also in Spanish.
Being a Christian is not essentially about joining a church or being a nice person, but about following in the footsteps of Jesus, taking his teachings seriously, letting his Spirit take the lead in our lives, and in so doing helping to change the world from our nightmare into God’s dream.” ― Michael Curry,
“It may be that we cannot solve everything, and we cannot do everything. But we can do something, no matter what.” – Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry
Full transcript of Bishop Curry’s remarks available here: