And what a Christmas it is! I offer this video greeting to all of you in this Diocese and beyond who follow. I also offer three wonderful offerings sent to me by various people in my life that I think are worth sharing at this strange time we live through. First is a video filmed on a rooftop near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, with singers singing Drummer Boy in English, Arabic, and Italian. Beautiful, and for those who have traveled there, with me and others, it is a good memory. I am really missing the usual impending trip this year.
Next is a little sermon from a Franciscan Friar, who talks some good sense on how to "use" this unique Advent and Christmas we are living through.
And then, number three, from St. James' Kent, and the Rev. Dr. Joyce Parry-Moore, this video of the Nativity St. James' style, replete with faces of the newborn babies of 2020 from their congregation.
And finally, my Merry Christmas wish for all of you. Blessings to all of you. Stay healthy, nothing can stop Christ coming into our world, into our lives, into our hearts.
Dear People of the Diocese of Olympia and beyond,
At our most recent Diocesan Convention you overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting the Anti-Racism Covenant put forth initially by the Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson, Bishop of Missouri, and co-sponsored by many other bishops. My name has been on this covenant since just after its posting, however, I have now, on your behalf, added not just my name and office but the entire Diocese of Olympia. I provide a link below which will take you to the official website for the Covenant where you can view those who have signed, and sign yourself. More importantly, is to read it regularly, to use it as a rule of life right now, to study it in your congregations, and to hold it up as the ideal we are striving for. My plan is to post this quarterly on this blog, and our diocesan website, to remind us as a community to continue to use it. As I said at our convention, signing such documents, passing such resolutions, really is the easy part. The difficult part, the part that will change this Church, this country, this world, is our following it, acting on it, living into it. I offer it here as I vow to do just that personally.
You can read more about this Covenant, see the list of signers, and sign yourself here
Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”
1 John 4:20
The sin of racism disrupts the harmony and oneness that God intends for humanity. Racism is dangerous, divisive, and damaging. Racism purports that some are deserving of dignity over others and disregards the image and likeness of God found in every human being. We are created in the image of God; therefore, to engage in racism of any form is to refuse to acknowledge the image of God in the other and the stranger. The fact that we were created in the image of God should remind us that each person is a living expression of God that must be respected, preserved, and never dishonored.
Throughout our history, courageous people of God have taken the risk of standing up and speaking out for the least and the lowest. God now challenges us to become courageous people who seek to create sacred communities of hope by dismantling the sin of racism. This work involves risking ourselves for the sake of God’s love, moving beyond ourselves in order to seek and serve Christ and one another.
We invite you to add your name to this covenant and join us as we work to root out racism. Individuals, parishes, groups, dioceses as well as community leaders and businesses are all welcome to be a part of this project.
We lament…As people of faith, we acknowledge our sins and our failure to respect the dignity of every human being. We have, individually and corporately, fallen short of the glory of God, and now call to mind and name the aspects of our lament.
The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel is the VIII Bishop of Olympia, the Episcopal Church in Western Washington State. He has been the bishop here since September, 2007.