On Waging Reconciliation
September 26th, 2001
We, your bishops, have come together in the shadow of the shattering events of September 11. We in the United States now join that company of nations in which ideology disguised as true religion wreaks havoc and sudden death. Through this suffering, we have come into a new solidarity with those in other parts of the world for whom the evil forces of terrorism are a continuing fear and reality.
We grieve with those who have lost companions and loved ones, and pray for those who have so tragically died. We pray for the President of the United States, his advisors, and for the members of Congress that they may be given wisdom and prudence for their deliberations and measured patience in their actions. We pray for our military chaplains, and for those serving in the Armed Forces along with their families in these anxious and uncertain days. We also pray “for our enemies, and those who wish us harm; and for all whom we have injured or offended.” (BCP, page 391.
At the same time we give thanks for the rescue workers and volunteers, and all those persons whose courageous efforts demonstrated a generosity and selflessness that bears witness to the spirit of our nation at its best. We give thanks too for all those who are reaching out to our Muslim brothers and sisters and others who are rendered vulnerable in this time of fear and recrimination.
We come together also in the shadow of the cross: that unequivocal sign that suffering and death are never the end but the way along which we pass into a future in which all things will be healed and reconciled. Through Christ “God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” (Col. 1:20) This radical act of peace-making is nothing less than the right ordering of all things according to God’s passionate desire for justness, for the full flourishing of humankind and all creation.
This peace has already been achieved in Christ, but it has yet to be realized in our relationships with one another and the world around us. As members of a global community and the worldwide Anglican Communion, we are called to bear one another’s burdens across the divides of culture, religion, and differing views of the world. The affluence of nations such as our own stands in stark contrast to other parts of the world wracked by the crushing poverty which causes the death of 6,000 children in the course of a morning.
We are called to self-examination and repentance: the willingness to change direction, to open our hearts and give room to God’s compassion as it seeks to bind up, to heal, and to make all things new and whole. God’s project, in which we participate by virtue of our baptism, is the ongoing work of reordering and transforming the patterns of our common life so they may reveal God’s justness – not as an abstraction but in bread for the hungry and clothing for the naked. The mission of the Church is to participate in God’s work in the world. We claim that mission.
“I have set before you life and deathâ¦choose life so that you and your descendants may live,” declares Moses to the children to Israel. We choose life and immediately set ourselves to the task of developing clear steps that we will take personally and as a community of faith, to give substance to our resolve and embodiment to our hope. We do so not alone but trusting in your own faithfulness and your desire to be instruments of peace.
Let us therefore wage reconciliation. Let us offer our gifts for the carrying out of God’s ongoing work of reconciliation, healing and making all things new. To this we pledge ourselves and call our church.
We go forth sober in the knowledge of the magnitude of the task to which we have all been called, yet confident and grounded in hope.“And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA