An article for the All Souls Weekly, January 8, 2012
This week the Church enters the season after the Epiphany. In the coming days we reflect upon the ways in which Christ has appeared and continues to appear among us. Isaiah urges, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (60:1). We’re called to arise, but I think we’re also called to raise up others. We’re called to “let our light shine,” and especially these days, I think we’re called to let our light shine as Episcopalians.
This week the Vatican made public its arrangement by which Episcopalians may become Roman Catholics. I guess for those who are angry with the Episcopal Church this opportunity must seem as if Pope Benedict is offering a sort of new light. But for me, it’s a harsh and artificial light. It’s like a spotlight that is strong, focused, and steady, yet it relegates too much and too many to the shadows.
The light of Christ as perceived and shared by the Episcopal Church is different. Admittedly, it can seem like a softer light. It is a light filtered through scripture, reason, and tradition. And while it may not always be as clear or certain, the Light of Christ through an Episcopal lens is honest. Rather than reveal everything at once, the light we perceive is like the star followed by the magi. It’s a light that points the way and thereby compels us to rely on God and one another so that we can discern our next steps.
As Episcopalians, we have a lot of light to let shine and to share. Our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, continues to lead with a smart competence and a holy wisdom. Our new bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde, brings enthusiasm, faith, and passion. She shows a pastoral sensitivity along with a clear commitment to progressive Christianity.
But more than any single leader, our understanding of the Church welcomes and raises up leaders from the pews, encouraging light from all. May the New Year offer us increasing opportunities to share and shine our light.