Letter from the Rector

Letter from the Rector

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Dear Members of Saint James,

This past weekend in Charlottesville we saw the hatred and racism that simmers both above and below the surface in our country take center stage. It should not come as a shock to us; the same evil that divides and denigrates our fellow human beings is daily in the news and a part of all our lives in this sinful and broken world. I was reminded this week of the moral responsibility I have as minister of the Gospel: to not be silent, but to speak out against injustice and identify those things that are not in accord with the way of Christ. As I reflect on the events and images of the torch bearing and raged-filled hate speech of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neo-Nazis and the Alt-Right in Charlottesville, and the violence it unleashed; I am heartbroken to live in a culture and society where deep and profound hatred of people different from ourselves continues to exist and am ashamed that this mindset is often supported by people who claim the title of Christian.

The evil that denies the dignity of every human being is not in any way consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to break down all the walls of sins that divide us through the only means possible: the unconditional, self-giving, love of God. Saint Paul wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) As Christians our lives must be clearly rooted in the Gospel and our loyalties not divided in political or cultural assumptions that are in opposition to the teachings of Christ. We are first and foremost followers of Christ, and anything in our lives that competes with kindness, compassion, understanding and forgiveness is inconsistent with our Baptismal Vows and our higher calling as the Holy People of God.

We must not be silent or fail to act in these evil days in which we find ourselves. As Christians we have the responsibility to counter racism and hatred in our hearts and in our actions. This is most clearly done by loving God and all our neighbors as our selves. We all need to pray for courage and conviction to reject racism wherever we find it: in our society, in our church, in our families, and within our very self. The Holy Spirit is our guide to lead us into all truth as we allow our hearts and minds to be opened and transformed to the heart and mind of Christ. May God guide and challenge us in the weeks and months ahead as we seek to be a community that embodies the values and judgements that respect, honor and love all people as created in God’s image.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Rev. M. Carl Lunden, Rector
Saint James’ Episcopal Church, Goshen, NY