“Walk in love” was the theme of last week’s Diocese of Virginia Convention. We heard lots of stories and saw a wonderful video about ways our diocese is walking in love:

 At the end of this post you will find the amazing prayer that opened convention from the Rev. Melanie Mullen, our former seminarian, now ‘downtown missioner’ at St. Paul's in Richmond.

“Walk in Love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God,” is what the clergy person says just before the offering plates come out and the choir makes a musical offering of their own. It’s a beautiful passage from Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus and we are most familiar with it as an offertory sentence. But what does it mean to walk in love as Christ loved us? Didn’t Christ’s love for us include dying on a cross? Whatever "walk in love" means, it’s not going to be easy.  

A woman stopped me after church and shared how angry she has been in the last two weeks, how much hatred she has felt for President Trump and his polices. As tears filled her eyes, she said. “I know that’s terrible to say, but that is what I have been feeling and it’s eating me up. I hate that I hate.” She is not alone. Many people are struggling with feelings of anger, powerlessness, and fear at the destabilization brought on by the recent executive orders of the new administration. My therapist friends are telling me Mr. Trump has been great for business.

 But seriously, how do we keep going? Is it possible to walk in love?

Again, we look to the wisdom of Christ. Jesus formed a community and bid them walk with him. Jesus healed and transformed everyone with whom he came into contact, but he was always moving in a group! Perhaps the most critical thing is not to isolate ourselves. I asked the woman I spoke with this morning how she felt after the church service, after worshipping and singing, listening to an inspiring sermon by our rector and receiving communion? She hadn’t been here in a while and she almost didn’t come. She answered with a resounding, “Much better.” One thing "walk in love" means is walk in community. Together, with God’s help, we can figure out a way forward. Together in worship, we can be washed in the love and mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ and we will remember (re- member) that we belong to something much greater than ourselves - the body of Christ. Together, we can find creative responses to the new and frightening things happening in our city and country. I know that I would be lost without my faith community, that’s you. Will you come to church so we can remember that we are in this together? Will you come to our powerful Voices of Hope forums so we can be re-energized together? Will you come to our Prayer 101 offerings so we can experience the power of the living Christ together? Will all of this make it easier to walk in love? I’m willing to bet my life on it.

 

Opening Prayer at Diocesan Convention given by the Rev. Melanie Mullen

Almighty God, Ground of our Being, we stand here today as you bid us to walk. 

Be our guide in the way we should walk as one people, as this church of yours, with all its turns and angles. God of be our map maker and bid us walk in.

God of the liturgies - of the "also with you’s" and of the of the "with ya’lls" and "all ya’lls". Bid us to walk in.

God, who knows the ways we stumble, in thinking that we scholars of spirituality are monitors, rather than a living endowment we pray.

For all who yearn for your sense against the profane absurdities of racism, classism, and sexism, we pray.

In our walks which give you praise and the ones when we are reluctant to accept your way, guide us we pray.

For all of our companions along the way who yearn to feel your presence, we pray.

God bid us in - whether we circumambulate the abstract fears from our news feeds of gloom, or the real heartbreaks and pain of alienation from our community.

God of the old donors, furious with capitol campaign, and the sojourners without checking account to make a pledge, we pray.

God, we pray for our FFV’s - and for refugees.

For those asleep, those awake, and those woke.

We pray to you through our disconnects, Lord. Liberate us for service. Liberate us for service in word, deed, and sacrament.

Guide us to take courage, to be imitators of God in Christ who first loved us.

Make us to step - both left, and right - to walk, even tentatively, in the center. Be we tremulous but fortified, assure us that we walk in the light. 

Make us resonate with the music of your spheres as we attune ourselves to the sacred cosmic score.

We are walking. We are walking. We are walking in. 
May we walk in love.
Amen