William Barclay, Scottish bible scholar and author of the quaint and dated (1953) commentary on Holy Scriptures, identified Simeon and the prophetess Anna in the story of the Presentation of Jesus as among the “Quiet of the Land.” Noted for their steadfast faith, patience and hopeful outlook, Simeon and Anna waited in the Jerusalem temple for the arrival of their salvation. They were not given to protesting, acts of violence or unleashing “armies with banners,” as Barclay put it, but chose, even in the face of chaos and oppression, to wait it out and to be confident in their eventual redemption.
In these recent days, I have thought about Simeon and Anna.
The changes in the tone and texture of our country have changed, dramatically, since the inauguration, and I have been watching the reaction of those around me, carefully, as I have been keeping one eye on the news. One eye on the news, the other on our people, here in Central Pennsylvania.
I read in the pages of social media about the despair that people are feeling and their loss of hope. Many of these voices are members of our Episcopal Church in Central Pennsylvania. And, I am keenly aware of the voices that I am not hearing. My responsibility is to care for, tend and support all of those in our Church who are within our diocese, to maintain and build relationships with our ecumenical and interfaith partners, and to explore how our ties to community can be strengthened, bringing the light of Christ to places where he is yet unknown.
The ordination vows of a bishop include promises to “boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ, enlighten the minds and stir(ing) up the conscience of the people and show compassion to the poor and strangers, defending those who have no helper,” among other things. (BCP pg. 518)
I want to find ways to engage in dialogue with those in our diocese who want and need to talk. I pray for the open sharing of ideas, respectful listening, and exchange of points of view that will allow us to grow together in Christ.
I am also compelled to share my own interpretation of the current events with those whom I serve and to share how I perceive Christ’s call to us in this world. For it is my Christian identity that matters most to me, and the values of Christianity- love, justice, and peace- which influence my actions. In my heart, I live in fervent hope, and, by nature of my vocation, I am called to speak out against injustice and to proclaim Good News when I see it.
How is the Spirit leading you in these days?