We are no less vulnerable today.
Until our bishop repents of his deviation from the Apostolic faith and the Anglican Communion (as evidenced by his stated desire to see same sex blessings take place in this diocese), I will regard his words below as perhaps a sweet syrup served up to cover the bitter scroll which we will be forced to swallow in the future.
"Pastoral Letter for Lent 2013
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Many years ago, as a young, newly-married musician in Boston, I commuted 70 miles three times per week into Cambridge, Massachusetts, from our home in the woods of southwestern New Hampshire. The long drives home, often late at night, gave me the chance to listen to tapes of lectures and music. One was a tape of Frederick Buechner giving the talks that would become his autobiographical book, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation, published in 1983.
One story he tells in the book is of a period in his life when he taught religion—at Exeter Academy, as I remember it. Among his classes was one on world religions. He had asked his students to imagine two statues—one of the Buddha in prayer, the other of Jesus in prayer, both with eyes closed. After some discussion on prayer, he clarified the key difference between the intentions represented by these images. The Buddha’s eyes were closed to shut out the world; Jesus’ eyes were closed around the world, embracing it in its totality.
The contrast between these two images and the implications for my discipleship were immediately apparent to me. If Jesus’ eyes, closed in their embrace of the world, are eyes of compassion and signs of God’s infinite love for the world, my own discipleship would have to reflect that in every relationship—both public and private.
Such depth of compassion remains a challenge for me. Therefore, when I take on a Lenten discipline, I seek something that will initiate a change deep within me—to see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and especially to follow him more nearly. When I hold this intention in the light of Christ’s all-embracing compassion, I return again and again to John 3:16, that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.” Because of God’s love for me and my love for God, I am called to open the doors of my heart to others. This is as true when I find myself in the midst of dissonance and disagreement in the Church as it is when I randomly encounter someone whose presence or situation dares me to open my heart and be the disciple God calls me to be.
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and his Sermon on the Plain in Luke, Jesus says that we are to “Love your enemies” and, in Luke (6:27-28), “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” In Matthew (5:44-45), he says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” It is hard to think of anything more difficult for us to do than to embrace a love like this. Yet Matthew concludes this saying with, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And Luke says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Compassion and mercy are at the very heart of perfecting our life in Christ as mature disciples.
We often think we have to get our beliefs logically ordered and discern who is worthy of Christian love before we can really give ourselves to compassion. Jesus must have anticipated this temptation, for, in Luke, his injunction against judging others follows immediately on his call to be merciful. In Matthew, it follows only a chapter after his call to be perfect.
Perhaps our ideal Lenten discipline is to be attentive in those moments when our eyes are shutting out the world—especially if we shut out the world in anger, hatred or despair. And then to open our eyes and the doors of our hearts to learn to love again, even as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.
May your Lent be blessed with growth in the power of the Holy Spirit beyond anything that you can ask or imagine.
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina"