On Saturday November 15, 2014 Bishop Andrew Dietsche made his annual address to the convention of the Diocese of New York. The full text of his address can be read here : http://www.dioceseny.org/news_items/280-bp-dietsche-s-address-to-convention and the video is also on that website.
I referred to a portion of the address in my sermon the next day in a summary fashion, but I believe that the way he said it is much deeper and more challenging and points us all to the responsibility that we all have in this world. Just what every person taking responsibility for her or his baptismal vows should hear.
So here is an excerpt from near the end of Bishop Dietsche’s address:
Most Sundays I have the honor of receiving candidates for confirmation. Sometimes one or two and sometimes a host of them. When I meet with them before the sacrament, I tell them all the same thing. I tell them that I believe that in a broken and violent world, a world in which the ways people hurt other people and break people down and divide people are myriad, it is the responsibility of every person — not just every Christian or every person of faith, but every person — to find a way to tell the world what they stand for. That everyone has an obligation to stand before their community, their world and whatever higher purpose animates their souls, and declare that they will not part of those forces of destruction. That they refuse to bend their lives to that violence, that contempt. That they will not join themselves to that which corrupts and destroys. Rather, they will embrace principles that endure and things that matter, and make and nurture communities of character. I tell them that I believe that every person in the world has an obligation to let the rest of us know that they can be counted on. That they can be trusted. I tell them that every person has this responsibility, but that the way we do that as Christians is by baptism. By promises made and promises kept. And by conforming our lives, and the things that we think about, and the things we do, to our beautiful Jesus.
I tell them these things, because I worry that the greatest risk to the church and the Christian enterprise is our temptation to ask too little of ourselves and our communities. It is easy to make doing church a small thing, and to think that being a Christian is nobody’s business but our own. So how we live into this adventurous, heroic life together, across three boroughs and seven counties, rich and poor, strong and weak, of every color and a dozen languages, and how we demonstrate this to the world about us and make a difference in the place where God has put us on the day God has put us there is the strategic plan. And if it’s not, then why in the world would we care about it? Two years ago when I spoke to you for the first time I said that all I want is the Kingdom of Heaven. And I said that if I couldn’t have the Kingdom of Heaven then I don’t want anything else. I got a glimpse of it last night when I read the things you said to me. And it turned me on. Amen.