Episcopal Diocese of Washington

To draw people to Jesus and embody his love
for the world by equipping faith communities,
promoting spiritual growth, and striving for justice

Bishop's Writings

Rest

July 01, 2020

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11: 29-30

In recent weeks, I’ve heard many colleagues and friends acknowledge their deep fatigue. Indeed, signs of fatigue are everywhere. I feel it myself. I’ve asked everyone on the diocesan staff to take time this summer to rest, even if a traditional vacation isn’t possible. I’ve asked regional deans to communicate the same message to our parish clergy, staff, and lay leaders. 

Our relationship to rest is complicated by many factors, both internal and external.

In an inequitable society, rest is experienced more as a privilege than an essential human need. In a time when work and income are uncertain, rest feels like a luxury we can’t afford. In the anxiety born of constant comparison and self-judgement, we often don’t allow ourselves to rest, even when given the opportunity. When all our normal patterns of life are disrupted, as they have in recent months, we may have forgotten what rest feels like. 

Then there is the clarion call to work for justice ringing in our ears. In the words of the Civil Rights leader Ella Baker: Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest. 

We cannot rest in the long road for justice, or in any work of lasting value. At the same time, we need rest. Our bodies daily need rest or we get sick. Our minds need rest or we can no longer think clearly. Our souls need rest or we lose grounding and perspective. Without adequate rest, we are at greater risk of having accidents, making poor decisions, or causing unintended harm when we mean to do good. 

As I bring all of these concerns and realities to prayer, what I hear is this: 

God knows our need for rest. 

God knows that we all need rest, in daily measure; in longer rhythms of sabbath time each week; and restorative seasons, when we can allow ourselves, like the soil, to lie fallow for a time, in order to continue to bear fruit.   

There are seasons in life and in society when rest seems nearly impossible, and we must rely on our inner reserves, the support of others, and the grace of God to keep going. Yet we aren’t meant to work at that pace all the time, but once we become accustomed to it, it takes time to recalibrate and find a more sustainable rhythm. 

Jesus was not one to shirk from work, and he calls us, his followers, into lives of sacrificial love and service. Yet he longs to give rest to our weary souls. 

In this unsettled, unrestful time, I hope that you find a way to practice rest, as one of the foundational disciplines in Jesus’ Way of Love. If it helps, remember that rest is one of God’s commandments--not a suggestion--for our own sake and that of others. Consider your relationship to rest and what keeps you from it. 

In your times of rest, pray for those who are still working--some far too hard, for far too long. And whenever you can, find ways to offer rest for others. In times like this, the gift of rest is priceless, both to give and to receive.  

 

Descansar

July 01, 2020

Jesús dijo, “Acepten el yugo que les pongo, y aprendan de mí, que soy paciente y de corazón humilde; así encontrarán descanso. Porque el yugo que les pongo y la carga que les doy a llevar son ligeros." 
Mateo 11:29-30

En las últimas semanas, he escuchado a muchos colegas y amigos reconocer su profunda fatiga. De hecho, hay señales de fatiga en todas partes. Yo misma lo siento. Les he pedido a todos los miembros del personal diocesano que tomen tiempo este verano para descansar, incluso si unas vacaciones tradicionales no son posibles. Les he pedido a los decanos regionales que comuniquen el mismo mensaje a nuestro clero parroquial, personal y líderes laicos.

Nuestra relación con el descanso se complica por muchos factores, tanto internos como externos. En una sociedad inequitativa, el descanso se experimenta más como un privilegio que como una necesidad humana esencial. En un momento en que el trabajo y los ingresos son inciertos, el descanso se siente como un lujo que no podemos permitirnos. En la ansiedad que nace de la constante comparación y el auto-juicio, a menudo no nos permitimos descansar, incluso cuando se nos da la oportunidad. Cuando todos nuestros patrones normales de vida se interrumpen, como lo han hecho en los últimos meses, podemos haber olvidado cómo se siente el descanso.

Luego está el llamado a trabajar por la justicia que suena en nuestros oídos. En palabras de la líder de los Derechos Civiles Ella Baker: Hasta que el asesinato de hombres negros, hijos de madres negras, se vuelva tan importante para el resto del país como el asesinato del hijo de una madre blanca, los que creemos en la libertad no podemos descansar. 

No podemos descansar en el largo camino de la justicia, ni en ninguna obra de valor duradero. Al mismo tiempo, necesitamos descansar. Nuestros cuerpos necesitan descanso diario o nos enfermamos. Nuestras mentes necesitan descanso o ya no podremos pensar claramente. Nuestras almas necesitan descanso o perdemos terreno y perspectiva. Sin un descanso adecuado, corremos mayor riesgo de tener accidentes, de tomar decisiones deficientes o de causar daños no deseados cuando queremos hacer el bien.

Al llevar todas estas preocupaciones y realidades a la oración, lo que oigo es esto: 

Dios sabe que necesitamos descanso. 

Dios sabe que todos necesitamos descanso, en medida diaria; en ritmos más largos de tiempo de reposo cada semana; y temporadas restaurativas, cuando podemos permitirnos, como el suelo, estar en barbecho por un tiempo, para continuar dando fruto.

Hay temporadas en la vida y en la sociedad en las que el descanso parece casi imposible, y debemos confiar en nuestras reservas internas, en el apoyo de los demás, y en la gracia de Dios para seguir adelante. Sin embargo, no estamos destinados a trabajar a ese ritmo todo el tiempo, pero una vez que nos acostumbramos a ello, toma tiempo para recalibrar y encontrar un ritmo más sostenible.

Jesús no eludió del trabajo, y nos llama a nosotros, sus seguidores, a vivir de amor y servicio con sacrificio. Sin embargo, él anhela dar descanso a nuestras almas cansadas.

En este tiempo inestable e inquietante, espero que encuentren una manera de practicar el descanso, como una de las disciplinas fundamentales en el Camino del Amor de Jesús. Si ayuda, recuerden que el descanso es uno de los mandamientos de Dios, no una sugerencia, por nuestro propio bien y el de los demás. Considera cuál es tu relación con el descanso y lo que te impide hacerlo.

En sus tiempos de descanso, oren por aquellos que todavía están trabajando - algunos demasiado duro, por mucho tiempo. Y siempre que puedan, encuentren formas de ofrecer descanso a los demás. En tiempos como este, el don del descanso no tiene precio, tanto para dar como para recibir.


Testimony of Bishop Mariann Budde Before the Committee on National Resources, U.S. House of Representatives

June 29, 2020

Chairman Grijalva, Ranking Member Bishop, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Mariann Budde. I serve as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which counts among its parishes St. John's, Lafayette Square. I appear today to express my deep concern about the events of June 1, 2020, when our government resorted to acts of violence against peaceful protesters and prevented clergy and lay members of the Church from exercising their ministry on the grounds of St. John’s.

We in the Episcopal Church believe that the issues of racial and social justice are core tenets of the Christian faith. The Bible teaches that all human beings are created in the likeness and image of God. As children of God, all are to be treated with equal dignity and respect. Embedded in our nation’s history and institutions is the shameful abuse of Black Americans and other persons of color justified by the sinful notion of white supremacy—that whiteness is the human standard from which all other human beings deviate, and are therefore less than fully human, less worthy of equal treatment. As Christians, we are called by God to rectify that injustice. Our faith compels us to join those around the country and the globe who have engaged in non-violent protests to call for an end to racist policies and practices, and to say clearly, with one voice, that Black lives matter. 

For Episcopalians, the issue of racial justice is a shameful part of our history, for we were once the church of slave holders. Like the White House, St. John’s Lafayette Square was built with enslaved labor. Yet throughout our history, our noblest members have fought for the liberation of the enslaved, full human and civil rights for all people, and to be a church that welcomes all, for indeed, as Scripture teaches, God shows no partiality. We continue to struggle to come to terms with our racist legacy, and that of American society as a whole. We strive to be a voice for peace and the fundamental dignity of all human beings, knowing that, at our most faithful, we stand on the side of justice. 

And so we stand today, at this critical moment. When non-violent protestors began to gather at Lafayette Square, we decided to be present, to add our voice to the call for justice, to stand with and minister to all other peaceful protestors gathered there. This was, and is, for us an act of faith. Our ministry was suddenly and forcefully interrupted by government officials—first on June 1, when the government violently cleared protestors and clergy alike from the area surrounding St. John’s, and then in the coming days, when the government denied us access to the church to conduct a vigil. 

These actions, and in particular the use of violence against peaceful protesters, were antithetical to the teachings of the Bible and what we stand for as a Church. When our government announced its intention to use military force against American citizens in the Rose Garden that day, it struck me as an escalation of violence that could cause unnecessary suffering. I was horrified to see the government carry out that threat moments later. The government’s action was dehumanizing and in violation of the protestors’ right to be in that space. Then when the President held up a Bible outside of our church, as if to claim the mantle of spiritual authority over what just transpired, I knew that I had to speak. Nowhere does the Bible condone the use of violence against the innocent, especially those who are standing up for justice. This was a misappropriation of scripture, and a usurpation of our sacred space. 

I raise these issues to call attention to an abuse of power on the part of our government, which is also at the heart of the larger struggle for racial justice. While it is true that there have been instances of vandalism at St. John’s in recent weeks, we will not let these events and others overshadow the fundamental cause of justice. People across our nation are united as never before in recognizing that the way we police our communities needs to change. The way we treat people of color in this country needs to change. Yes, we care deeply about our churches. But in the end, buildings can be re-built. Windows can be replaced. Pillars can be repainted. We can never bring back the lives that have been lost due to horrific police violence. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Elijah McClain, and so many others. Their deaths are the true outrage, and I don’t want anything that has happened at St. John’s—either before the protests or in the weeks since—to distract us from that fact. Black lives matter, and our faith compels us to seek equal justice for all people.


EDOW Annual Giving Initiative: Doing What Love Requires

June 25, 2020

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the way of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

One of the more challenging realities of leadership is that we are simultaneously called to live fully in the present, evaluate our past efforts, and set a course for the future. While you, our parish clergy and lay leaders, are courageously leaning into the particular intensity of this moment, you’re also taking stock of how dramatically your congregation has been impacted by the pandemic. As summer begins, you’re planning for the fall and laying a foundation for ministry in 2021. 

Small wonder you’re tired. But here’s a bit of good news to save you time and energy as your plan for the fall.  

The Financial Resources Committee has once again produced an Annual Giving Toolkit for EDOW congregations, with materials needed for a thoughtful, inspiring pledge campaign. They’ve identified a theme, created a timeline, and drafted templates of key communication. You’re welcome to adapt any or all of these materials to best serve your congregation.    

This year’s theme, Doing What Love Requires, invites each of us to accept the love Jesus offers and his call to live a way of love in Christian community. It harkens back to Presiding Bishop Curry’s question to all who seek to follow Jesus: what would love do? It creates space to have pastorally supportive conversations with those who are unable to support their congregation financially and inspire those who are able to give more, because that, in fact, is what love requires.

As a diocese, we’ve witnessed through the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund both the intense financial need of some in our diocesan family and the incredible generosity of those who have means to help. I pray that the same spirit of mutual concern will sustain our congregations at a time when their ministries are so very important.

May this resource lighten the burden of leadership for you and give you another experience of time this summer--that of rest and renewal. 

Iniciativa Diocesana de Promesas Anual: Hacer lo que el amor requiere

June 25, 2020

Ayúdense entre sí a soportar las cargas, y de esa manera cumplirán la ley de Cristo.
Gálatas 6:2

Una de las realidades más desafiantes del liderazgo es que estamos llamados a vivir plenamente en el presente, evaluar nuestros esfuerzos pasados y establecer un curso para el futuro. Mientras ustedes, nuestros cleros parroquiales y líderes laicos, se apoyan valientemente en la intensidad particular de este momento, también están haciendo un balance de lo dramáticamente que su congregación ha sido impactada por la pandemia. A medida que comienza el verano, estás planeando para el otoño y sentando las bases para el ministerio en 2021.

No es una pequeña maravilla que estén cansados. Pero aquí hay un poco de buenas noticias para ahorrarte tiempo y energía en como planear para el otoño.

El Comité de Recursos Financieros ha producido una vez más un conjunto de herramientas para las promesas anuales en las congregaciones de la Diócesis de Washington (los materiales en español están por venir), con los materiales necesarios para una campaña de promesas bien pensadas e inspiradoras. Han identificado un tema, creado un cronograma y elaborado plantillas de comunicación clave. Ustedes están bienvenidos a adaptar cualquiera o todos estos materiales para servir mejor a su congregación.

El tema de este año, Haciendo lo que el Amor Requiere, nos invita a cada uno de nosotros a aceptar el amor que Jesús ofrece y su llamado a vivir una forma de amor en la comunidad cristiana. Se vuelve a escuchar la pregunta del Obispo Presidente Curry a todos los que buscan a seguir a Jesús: ¿Qué haría el amor? Crea un espacio para tener conversaciones de apoyo pastoral con aquellos que no pueden apoyar financieramente a su congregación e inspirar a aquellos que son capaces de dar más, porque eso, de hecho, es lo que el amor requiere.

Como diócesis, hemos sido testigos a través del Fondo de Ayuda de Emergencia del COVID-19 tanto la intensa necesidad financiera de algunos en nuestra familia diocesana como la increíble generosidad de aquellos que tienen medios para ayudar. Ruego que el mismo espíritu de preocupación mutua sostenga a nuestras congregaciones en un momento en que sus ministerios son tan importantes.

Esperamos que este recurso alivie la carga del liderazgo para ustedes y les dará otra experiencia de tiempo este verano, la del descanso y la renovación.

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