I’d like to begin with a call for prayers for our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry. For those of you may not have heard yet, on Wednesday afternoon, we learned that Bishop Curry will be having surgery this Tuesday, July 31st, to address his diagnosis of prostate cancer:
Dear Friends in Christ,
A few months ago, through my annual physical, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After a variety of tests, consultations, and conversations with my wife and daughters, I decided on a surgical treatment course. On this coming Tuesday, July 31st, I will have surgery to remove the prostate gland.
I am happy to say that the prognosis looks very good and quite positive. I have spoken with several others who have gone through this, and who have offered both encouragement and helpful advice. I will be in the hospital for at least a day, then at home to recuperate.
I’ve been told that 4-6 weeks is a reasonable time to anticipate. I plan to resume my duties in early September and I do not anticipate any significant changes in my commitments.
I am very blessed with a wonderful family, a first-rate medical team, a great staff, dear colleagues and friends, a calling to which I have given my life, and above all a good, great and loving God in whose hands we always remain. So, do say a prayer. And know that I look forward to being back at my post in September.
God bless you, and keep the faith,
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servant Michael the help of your power, that his sickness may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I’m excited by many of the happenings at General Convention and am eager to share many stories with you. This week, I’d like to introduce you to a new focus presented by Bishop Curry in his opening sermon in Austin. Bishop Curry, invited us to join him on a journey of faith by integrating seven spiritual practices in our lives that we are calling The Way of Love.
You might recall Jesus asking his followers “What do you seek?” This is a great question for reflection. The Church’s answer echoes the desires that are common to us all:
We seek love
To know God’s love, to love and be loved by others, and to love ourselves.
We seek freedom
From the many forces – sin, fear, oppression, and division – that pull us from living as God created us to be: dignified, whole, and free.
We seek abundant life
Overflowing with joy, peace, generosity, and delight. Where there is enough for all because we all share with abandon. A life of meaning, given back to God and lived for others.
We seek Jesus
The Way of Jesus is the Way of Love,
and that way has the power to change lives and change the world.
In a meeting that Bishop Curry had earlier this year with a group of lay people, clergy and bishops, he discussed ways that the Church might encourage people to seek Jesus, to “throw themselves into the arms of Jesus,” as part of living into being the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement. Rather than create a new program, the group decided to draw on the monastic practice of living with a Rule of Life – like the Rule of St Benedict – as a means of drawing into a closer relationship with God. You know Bishop Curry’s passion for faithful living for Jesus – take some time to watch this sermon.
The seven practices include:
- Turn: Pause, listen and choose to follow Jesus.
- Learn: Reflect daily on scripture, especially the life and teachings of Jesus.
- Pray: Spend time with God in prayer every day.
- Worship: Gather in community for worship every week.
- Bless: Share one’s faith and find ways to serve other people.
- Go: Move beyond one’s comfort to witness to the love of God with words and actions.
- Rest: Dedicate time for restoration and wholeness.
The Episcopal Church website has many resources available for individuals and congregations and families including Bishop Curry’s invitation to each of us to join in the journey:
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19
In the first century Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called “church” or “Christian,” this Jesus Movement was simply called “the way.”
Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world?
The deep roots of our Christian tradition may offer just such a path. For centuries, monastic communities have shaped their lives around rhythms and disciplines for following Jesus together. Such a pattern is known as a “Rule of Life.” The framework you now hold – The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life – outlines a Rule for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.
It is designed to be spare and spacious, so that individuals, ministry groups, congregations, and networks can flesh it out in unique ways and build a church-wide treasure trove of stories and resources. There is no specific order you need to follow. If you already keep a Rule or spiritual disciplines, you might reflect and discover how that path intersects with this one. By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world.
Your brother in the Way of Jesus,
The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
Can you imagine what might happen if we all devoted ourselves to intentionally pursue these seven practices? If we each could throw ourselves into the arms of Jesus all the time? Living these will take practice and humility, for sure, but think of the results! Think of what Jesus’ love has done for us and can do for others who are finding themselves lost in a divisive and often cruel world. I am excited by the possibilities and ask your prayers as I endeavor to engage in these seven practices. I’ll be praying for you, too.
Here are more links for helpful resources:
Let us pray –
Almighty and All-loving God, we need you. We need you in our lives. We need you in the world around us. Grant us your grace to seek love, to seek freedom, to seek abundant life – all of which can be found when we seek Jesus. Help each of us discern how we might throw ourselves in Jesus’ loving arms and then help us direct others to those arms of healing, restoration and hope. Grant us courage and commitment to embark on this journey with you. We ask for your guidance as we travel the Way of Love, and we ask all these things in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council