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During These Troubled Times

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The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 17
Dear Friends in Christ,

As August turns to September fall schedules begin. Many are returning from vacations and looking forward to the routines of school, work, and weekends. Startup Sundays of various kinds signal a return to regular life and church attendance increases. While a busy time, most clergy and lay leaders enjoy this season. I pray this fall is a blessing for you.

On a diocesan level, we experience a similar return to days full of opportunity to be about the work of God in the world. I can assure you that your diocesan staff is excited to be with you as you bring the good news of the Gospel to those in need of it in your community.

At this moment, I am particularly mindful of our sisters and brothers in Texas and Louisiana. I saw the devastation of a flood while an assistant priest in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and I know of the long road many will have to recovery. The people of Brookings, Oregon, can attest to the good work of ERD (Episcopal Relief & Development) as they experienced the effects of a tsunami a few years ago and I know invite you to consider making a financial gift to ERD for the relief of those suffering from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.  Just the other day the priest serving the church in Shady Cove let me know that they sent a check to ERD. Let us pray and work toward a world in which all are loved and cared for as God’s own children.

I am also aware that many in our churches are distressed by the current political environment in which we find ourselves in the United States and, indeed, around the world. There is much to be dismayed about as manmade and natural disasters continue to be front page news around the globe. Many voices call us to action and to prayer. And we do not agree on the solutions offered by one side or the other.

Surely this a time for prayer and for action, yet I pray we focus our attention on Gospel values and not on merely human ones. When Jesus rebuked Peter he said, “You are not on the side of God, but of Men.” This is a sober reminder that our call as Christians is to Christ and the Gospel of love he preached.

This year, our diocesan theme has been Do Justice – Love Mercy – Walk Humbly and I suggest that preaching and teaching ministries this fall might well be turned to these Gospel values. The central question, in my judgment, is simply this: What is God calling you and your community to do during these troubled times? The answer is found in scripture and the teachings of Jesus found therein.

With love and affection,

+Michael

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