Moses said: The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall listen to such a prophet. Anyone who does not listen to the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.” (from Deuteronomy 18)
In the books of the Law and the Prophets, the emphasis is on prophets that speak the truth and prophets that speak lies. Those that speak lies are held accountable. In both the Old and New Testaments we read that those that preach and speak truth are to be rewarded. But, those who say they are speaking for God, but speak lies will be judged even more harshly than those that listen to them, believe them and do what they say. We know that a prophet who speaks the truth in God’s name, truly loves God and is known by God. Anyone who preaches lies in the name of the Lord will be held accountable for the harm they cause.
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him. It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. But when you consequently sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. (1 Cor. 8)
Knowledge puffs up, makes a person proud in a bad way, but love builds up a person in a good way. You can use truth to build bridges. This pulpit is not a place to push a political agenda, to accuse or tear anyone down or to try to force people into my personal worldview or opinion.
I promise you, and God, that I will always preach the written word that agrees with the living Word, the best that I can understand it, and let the chips will fall where they may. I will never apologize for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible I am instructed to preach from.
One of my favorite sayings is from the book of Proverbs:
It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out (Proverbs 25:2)
As an Episcopal priest, I want to be in step with the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament. I will preach the Crucified Christ and share the agape love of God with my brothers and sisters. I will follow the teachings of Paul who tells us to be thoughtful of the differences and even the weaknesses that we all have in the church. We are called‘living stones’ (1 Peter 2:5-9), encouraging one another, thinking of one another as more important than ourselves, (Philippians 2:3) and doing all things in our power and ability to keep the unity of the Spirit of God in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3) Until God tells me otherwise, I am called to bring peace and harmony to the household of faith, and I would much rather be a bridge builder than a wall builder.
The Episcopal Church officially ordains women, officially ordains anyone regardless of sexual orientation, and officially ordains everyone regardless of color. From the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: Black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy, and God is not interested merely in the freedom of black people and brown people and yellow people. God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race and the creation of a society where all people will live together as brothers and sisters, and all people will respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality. God loves us all and we all stand equal before the Lord our maker.
The Anglican (and as Episcopalians were are Anglicans)understanding of truth has been characterized as a “three-legged stool” which cannot stand if any one of the legs is missing or broken. This balanced understanding of truth is based in the theology of Richard Hooker who lived from 1554 until 1600, and who explained that we find truth by looking at three things; the Holy Scripture, the traditions of the church, and reason, which includes science. There is safety in approaching truth with this balanced understanding. No one of us is a law unto ourselves. We do not, and should not try to understand what the truth is all by ourselves, with no input from others in the Church.
To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)
And so, I will continue to do my best to build bridges in the Body of Christ, not walls, preach the Word of God with authority and without apology, and share this love with all people. I challenge everyone here, and anyone listening today to do the same; build bridges, not walls, with all those around you, never be ashamed of Jesus, and share his love with everyone. This is our message to all we meet:
“God loves you, just the way you are, with no strings attached. It doesn’t matter about the past, and we know little about future, but right here, right now, God loves you.”
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; those who act accordingly have a good understanding. (Psalm 111:0)