Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.
A little over a week ago, my Facebook news feed lit up with a video clip from the evening news of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s Bishop, Rob Wright, addressing Georgia legislature’s House of Representatives as Chaplain of the Day. It made the evening news (and has stuck with me all this time) because he didn’t follow the rules.
Supposedly, the chaplain of the day is supposed to just pray for the assembly. They are told to not state positions on policy or speak of anything of any legislative consequence. Bishop Wright did pray for the assembly – he started off by letting them know that they we, as an Episcopal Church, pray for our leaders every Sunday (and we do).
But he didn’t stop there. He called on them to address the issue of guns, but more specifically, he implored them to implement universal background checks. Further, he called on them to provide for “the ignorant, the indigent and the immigrants of our state.” And for good measure, he made (what I infer as) a nod to marriage equality: “Step over your fears and do what is right on behalf of the elderly, the poor, the orphan, the veteran, the prisoner and those who love differently. The time is always right to do right. This is what Jesus of Nazareth invites us to do.”
According to the news clip, that was a big “no no,” and many republican lawmakers were enraged that he would step so far out of line. They question whether he will ever be invited back. Most of these lawmakers weren’t willing to say so on camera. Cowards.
What a big contrast between a man who was willing to put forth his thoughts on an issue of great importance to society while others weren’t even willing to speak their minds on camera. I can see them murmuring in the corners of the room and in the halls…clamoring over the injustice of it all. The only thing that I could think of when I heard that part of the clip is that if they’re not even bold enough to go on camera and state their position on something that was against the rules, how can we expect them to be bold enough to take necessary actions on bigger issues that have a more direct effect on our lives?
I don’t know what the answer is to the gun and violence problem in our state, and this post isn’t advocating for one position or another. What I applaud in the Bishop’s actions is his boldness–his willingness to step outside of the box that they tried to put him into and his willingness to not miss an opportunity to speak the truth of what he felt in his heart.
This is the kind of boldness that we Christians need to have. It’s the same kind of boldness that was shown to us in Jesus.
We tend to see Jesus as a more meek and mild character – one who called us to love our neighbors and turn the other cheek. We see him as the shepherd that wouldn’t let even one sheep be lost. We see him as the one who loved children and set them as an example for the rest of us.
But he didn’t get THAT many people to follow him by being meek and mild. He was a radical figure who challenged current thinking of the times. He loved, but it was a radical love that was all-inclusive. He turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple. Knowing that he would be killed in Jerusalem, he still set his sights on the city. He didn’t let his determination to live out his ministry be thwarted by warnings of his impending death.
What I saw in this video clip of our Bishop was boldness. He has a message to spread, and he wouldn’t let the rules of the time silence that message. Even if it meant that he wouldn’t be invited back.
In this time, I’m reminded of a meme that, while incredibly funny to me, is very much on point:
The full text of Bishop Wright’s remarks can be found here.
When was the last time that you were so bold?