In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God … Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together. -Isaiah 40:3,5
Advent is a season of preparation: shopping for gifts, decorating our homes and sanctuaries.Advent is also a time to prepare our hearts and communities for the coming of Christ, the Almighty God who came among us poor and homeless, a stranger and a child. There may be no better time to reflect on how we as the Episcopal Church embrace the Holy One who continues to draw near in the neighbor, the stranger, the refugee, or the one who seems most “other” to you. It is the ideal season to commit to becoming Beloved Community and growing loving, liberating, life- giving relationships across the human family of God.
We make the journey not only as individual Christians and congregations, but as a whole church.This spring, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings and their supporting officers shared “Becoming Beloved Community,” a new vision document that lays out the Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice. A second resource — “Becoming Beloved Community Where You Are” — details many ways for individuals and congregations to take concrete steps toward change and healing. Both are available at www.episcopalchurch.org/beloved- community, along with a host of resources for faithful reflection and action.
The whole journey is framed around the labyrinth. Why? In the ministry of racial healing and justice, none of us walks a straight line.We enter the labyrinth wherever God has provided an opening – telling the truth about our church’s story around race; discerning and proclaiming God’s dream of Beloved Community where we are; learning and practicing Jesus’ way of healing and love; and bravely working to transform systemic racial injustice.We keep moving from one quadrant to another and back again. No one is ever really finished.That is the way of ongoing spiritual formation.
As you “walk” sections of this labyrinth, gather a group, and together engage the scriptures, reflections, and activities. Designate a facilitator who will carefully preview the session. Set aside at least 45 minutes for each session, and consider these Conversation Tips: Speak from your own experience. Be genuinely curious about what others share. Imagine you can disagree without someone being wrong.Avoid debate and stay with the story. Seek Christ in others and seek to embody his loving, liberating, life-giving way.
You will find printer-friendly online versions of both the labyrinth and each week’s full session – along with alternative activities for a variety of contexts – at www.episcopalchurch.org/beloved-community. Feel free to also explore daily offerings and ongoing conversation on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry regularly welcomes us to live not just as the church but as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement: the ongoing community that follows Jesus into loving, liberating, life-giving relationship with God, each other, and creation. May God bless and grow us into vibrant embodiments of the Christ we welcome and follow, this Advent and always.
The Episcopal Church’s Racial Reconciliation Team