“We speak of what we know, and testify to what we have seen.”
I am on my way to preach in the Diocese of Texas, just as Bishop Andy Doyle preached for our Diocesan Convention on January 28.
Bishop Doyle began his sermon to us: “Good people of the Diocese of Washington, I can only give you what I have received, and that is good news.” That good news, he said, has come to us in good times and bad; it has prevailed in times when we as a church could speak our truth with one voice and when we have been divided and railed against one another; it has prevailed when we’ve been on the mountaintop of spiritual experience but even more important when we’ve been in the valleys.
The good news Bishop Doyle has received and shared with us is this: Fruit is meant to multiply. Vines grow. Servants serve. Christians encourage one another in love. Christians are called–we are chosen for a time such as this, to give away what we have received and to watch it grow.
As I prepare to preach in the Diocese of Texas I, too, can only offer what I have received. That’s true for every preacher–we can only speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen and heard. It’s true for every Christian as we live our lives according to what bits of grace and goodness we have received and seek to share with others.
Sometimes we share from our abundance; just as often we share from our emptiness. Sometimes we share in confidence; other times in great vulnerability. Sometimes we share by disclosing the contents of our lives; other times by keeping silence and listening to what others have to say, creating sacred spaces of trust and respect.
This weekend, for multiple reasons, I don’t feel called to share “my vision” for the Episcopal Church or the issues we face as a nation, but rather to speak of the pillars upon which my life as a Christian depend. I will speak of some of the ways that Jesus has saved me in the past and is saving me now; of the times I have been allowed to walk on water because Jesus called me out of my boat; of how the miracle of the loaves and fish–inadequate offerings transformed by grace–is the spiritual foundation of my life; of what I have learned, and am learning, in my lifelong quest to remain open to multiple voices across wide spectrums of experience.
There is no question in my mind that we have been called for a time such as this, for this is the only time we have. And a lot depends upon how we live and respond to that call. But I also know that we can only speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen. We can only share what we ourselves have received. Thus it is also a time to draw deeply from the spiritual wells that sustain us, and daily receive the love, forgiveness, and mercies of Christ upon which our lives depend, so that what we share is indeed good news.