When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face toward Jerusalem.
Often those who witness another person’s decisive moment don’t recognize it for what it is. Even when the moment is ours, we may not fully grasp its significance, for we don’t as yet know how our lives will be changed by that moment. It’s not clear at first whether we will actually live differently, or simply continue on a familiar path without making the changes such a moment would suggest.
A decisive moment for Jesus’, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, occurs in the midst of a busy season of ministry along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He was about his work of teaching, healing, and equipping his disciples when it became clear to him that his days were numbered, and thus “he set his face toward Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)
And what did he do after his decisive moment? He began walking toward his destiny, step by step. He continued to teach and heal along the way, and he would often send his disciples out ahead of him as a way of preparing them for their eventual ministry after he was gone. It was not clear at first that anything had changed. It takes a full 10 chapters for him to arrive in Jerusalem. But he never wavered from his goal; he kept walking, step by step.
Your diocesan leadership is making the rounds to the first official gatherings of our eight new regions, meeting with clergy, wardens, and delegates to the diocesan convention. With your leaders, we’ve reflected on the steps we’ve taken as a diocese since the decisive moment of our last convention, when we made two significant decisions that set us on a new course. Next week, I’ll write of what we discussed and learned at these meetings as we continue on our collective journey, step by step, toward what I firmly believe is God’s preferred future for our congregations and diocese.
For today, I ask you to consider the decisive moment we are approaching as a nation on November 8. Given the importance of this election and the region in which we live and serve, I am confident that each of you is taking that moment seriously. I’m certain that you’re doing your part by voting and actively participating in the political process. While we are all weary by this stage, we know the importance of showing up. Thank you for doing so, as a follower of Jesus and a citizen of this land.
But cast your gaze with me to the days, weeks, and months after the election. What will we do then? What is our role, as Jesus followers and citizens, after that decisive moment? Do we simply continue on the same paths as before, or will anything change in the ways we relate to one another?
We’re told that we are a highly-polarized, bitterly divided nation, and there is ample evidence that in many ways we are. But there are also indications we may not be as divided as we think. All around us, there are surprising, even delightful stories of people from all walks of life who are determined to bridge even the largest chasms between us. Surely we can pick up the mantle of that more hopeful narrative, not avoiding the difficulties and challenges we face as a nation and species, but walking with love and the hope born of faith in a God who will not let us go.
That’s the narrative I want the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to be part of, as we follow the One whose love knows no bounds. We are uniquely positioned to join our fellow citizens on the other side of that decisive moment with love and determination to live into God’s preferred future for our nation and all humankind. I can’t wait to get on the other side of this decisive moment and take up that holy work with all of you.