May our grief and hope empower us to act

Bishop Stephen Lane shared the following sermon at the Service of Lament for Gun Violence at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland on March 14. The service, one of many across the Episcopal Church, marked one month since the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Channel 13-WGME-TV covered the service and interviewed Bishop Lane.

Bishop Lane’s sermon

Psalm 23; Isaiah 61:1-3; Matthew 2:16-18

[Bishop singing] – Trisagion, Archangelsky
Holy God, Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us

Thank you for coming out this evening. A Service of Lament is not an easy thing to sit through, and I thank you for your courage and your hope in coming here.

We all know the little metaphor about the frog and the pot. Put a frog in a pot, so it’s said, and turn the heat up slowly, and the poor frog slowly cooks to death without ever trying to escape. The heat rises so slowly that the frog never notices until it’s too late.

I think something like this has happened to us and to our country in relation to gun violence. For the most part, gun violence is so dispersed, so private, that it goes unnoticed. A large number of gun deaths – half – are suicides. Another large number of deaths are the result of domestic violence. We read about them here and there without putting together the reality that the number of deaths across our country now exceeds 30,000 a year, more than 38,000 in both 2016 and 2017. It takes something like the mass shooting at Parkland High School to get our attention, to tell us that the pot is at full boil.

And it is at full boil. The Las Vegas music festival shooting resulted in 58 dead and 851 injured from a single gunman… Some folks are still hospitalized. Full boil.

Yet, awareness of the boiling pot is not enough. What’s needed is time to count the cost, to feel the loss. The response to any death, to every death, must be grief.

A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and much grieving.  Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were no more. Or as Andrew Pollack said in testimony to the President about his daughter, Meadow, one of 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, There should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it. And I’m pissed. Because my daughter, I’m not going to see again. She’s not here. She’s not here. She’s in North Lauderdale King David cemetery, that is where I go to see my kid now.

A time of lament is deeply embedded in our Judeo-Christian tradition as the appropriate response to the infinite value of every human life, lives bearing the image of God, and deeply related to our own. We stop tonight to think of the lives that are here no more, that are gone from us forever.

Lament faces the reality of loss and death. Lament gives voice to grief. Lament gives human voice to the pain of God over the loss of God’s children. It is fundamental to our humanity that we take time to lament.

[Singing]
Holy God, Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us

Lament is not, however, hopeless…

In a private letter to the House of Bishops, Episcopalians Philip and April Schentrup wrote about their daughter, Carmen, and called us to action. They write: Our hearts are saddened for the loss of our beautiful little girl and the absence of her amazing presence, but we cannot be sad for Carmen. We believe that Carmen’s murder was not part of God’s plan and that God is saddened by the violence in this world more than we can know. We know that God’s promise is for us to be with him in heaven, and in faith, we believe that Carmen is in heaven, in the loving embrace of God. She awaits us, loved and cared for.

And so we believe. God is doing more for Carmen than we can ask or imagine. God has received Carmen and holds her forever. God’s love gives us hope that all is not lost and that hope compels us to action.

As Carmen’s parents went on: As our family struggles to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives, we ask the Good Lord daily for the strength to fight the good fight, to finish the race. In our attempt to heal from despair and grief, we are compelled to try and make the world a better place for our two remaining children and for all children.

The time has come for those of who believe in God to say that gun violence is not of God. It is not acceptable to us as God’s people. Whoever the victims, however the death, sudden death is not what God wants. Whatever the remedies needed, and there are many, the time is passed for us to pretend we don’t know the water is boiling. The time is now to tell the truth and to act.

Isaiah proclaimed, The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God.

We are the Lord’s chosen. We are the people called and baptized to carry the Good News of the coming kingdom. We are the ones called to prepare the way… and the time is now.

May our grief and our hope empower us to act. May we crawl out of the pot and speak, not only to save ourselves, but all of God’s children. May we recognize that unfettered access to guns, access that exceeds anything we would consider for cars, is blighting our lives and killing our neighbors. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, may we be voices for hope and for peace and for the infinite value of every human life.

[Singing]
Holy God, Holy and Mighty
Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us

Joy, we win!

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane visited St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland on the second Sunday of Advent. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

I invite you to look at this troubled, old world from the standpoint of victory. I’d like you to consider your lives from the standpoint of one who knows that God has already overcome sin and death. I’d like you to think how you can live according to the standard of the world that is coming; how you can be kinder, more hospital, more compassionate, more just.

Read it all here.

The love of God is never exhausted

Bishop Stephen T. Lane offered his annual address and Convention sermon to the people of the Diocese of Maine on Saturday, October 28, during the 198th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Maine at the Cross Center in Bangor.

Read his address, his sermon, or watch them below.

In his sermon Bishop Lane had this, in part, to say:

“[We are] to testify to the Good News of God in Christ.

“I love that word testify. It means to stand up and tell the truth. To testify means we have to be among the people. We cannot testify in our closets. We cannot testify in our homes. We have to be in our communities…We have to be voices for the love of God. Followers of the way of Jesus. That’s the work God is inviting us into. It may seem like a lost cause but, my friends, the love of God is never exhausted. It is here. Right here. Right now.”

Jesus would have none of it

Most summer Sundays, Bishop Steve Lane may be found visiting one of the 18 summer chapels along the coast of Maine. On August 6 he gathered with the people of Holy Trinity on Peaks Island for the Feast of the Transfiguration.

In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

If the events on Mt Tabor have any truth in them at all, then Jesus of Nazareth is revealed as holding the power of God: the light of truth, the well of forgiveness, and the sword of justice. In him the fulness of God resides; the God who created the universe from nothing and sustains it with his Spirit; the God who gives each of us the ability to be transfigured and transformed into the likeness of Christ.

Yet this power is not simply to be admired and worshiped. It is to be used for the benefit of others. And here, I think, is the sticking point for the disciples and for us. The disciples believed that closeness to such power should benefit them, should give them some exceptional place and status, should lift them up. They wanted to sit at the right hand of power, to be the viziers of omnipotence.

But Jesus would have none of it. He would not let Peter build a shrine. He would not let them stay on the mountain. He did not encourage them to share what they had seen. He went down the mountain and used his power to heal a young boy. And he taught his disciples that the greatest among them should be as a little child.

Read it all here.

the cross demonstrates the depth of God’s love

On Tuesday, April 11, Bishop Stephen Lane, gathered with the clergy of the Diocese of Maine, offered this sermon at the annual Renewal of Vows and Chrism Eucharist at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland.

In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

‘But we preach is Christ crucified, a stumbling block for the Jews and folly to the Gentiles.’ What Paul is talking about is a new way of relating in which the differences of race, class, sex, religion and culture are subsumed into our union with God and one another in Christ. Good news, yes, but oh, how we cherish the differences! How we want our identities, our understandings, to predominate! The notion that God loves us all, that Christ died for us all, that our message is meant to be good news for all people, is simply more than we want or comprehend. And yet it is the path of life, not only for them, but for us.

Read it all here.

Remember who you are

On March 5, Bishop Stephen Lane marked the first Sunday in Lent together with the people of Grace Church in Bath. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

The temptation we face in this time – in every time – is to abandon our identity and to make ourselves over, to try to create an identity that seems more suitable to the age we’re living in. But we can’t really do that. We can’t make ourselves alone. We will always do that as part of some group. Ubuntu. And when we forget whose we are, when we forget that we were embraced in baptism as God’s beloved, then we risk falling far from the path that gives us life, that makes us whole.

Read it all here.

Blessing: To be met in weakness by God

Bishop Steve Lane visited and preached at St. Giles’ Episcopal Church in Jefferson on January 29. In his sermon had this, in part, to say:

To be blessed is to be met in our weakness by God. It is at the point of an impoverished spirit, in the midst of grief, in the effort to make peace, in seeking and suffering for God’s justice, that God meets us. It is here, not at the place of strength, that God finds us and blesses us.

Read it all here.

Resurrection always comes as a surprise

Bishop Steve Lane visited the people of St. Barnabas’, Rumford, on Sunday, October 2. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

The problem with notions of heroic faith is that it suggests that the outcome is dependent on us, that it’s up to us to save the world. It suggests that God isn’t present and active here, that we need to bring God to this place in order for good things to happen. And that, of course, is contrary to everything we believe about God.

Read it all here.

Much to learn from summer chapels

Over the past two Sundays, Bishop Steve Lane visited Maine summer chapels celebrating their 100th anniversaries: All Saints by the Sea on Bailey Island, Harpswell, on July 31, and St. Martin in the Fields in Biddeford Pool on on August 7.

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All Saints, Bailey Island

 

[We’ll add more photos as they become available.]

In his sermon at St. Martin’s he had this, in part, to say:

Although the chapels operate according to the traditions of The Episcopal Church, they do so without all canonical bureaucracy of an Episcopal congregation. They are places where the church and the world can meet in the beautiful Maine landscape, where persons of all sorts can mingle without pressure to join, and where the love of God isn’t nuanced by church politics. Summer chapels are places where people who deeply love God and the church can share their faith and tradition, and people who rarely come to church can hear and consider the love of God. It may well be that the openness and low key vibe of summer chapels offers some important learning for year round congregations.

Read his sermons from both celebrations here.

There is no place God will not go to meet us

On Sunday, June 19,confirm Bishop Stephen T. Lane confirmed (12!), received, and baptized at a regional service hosted by St. George’s in York Harbor.

In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

“…there is no place God can not or will not go to meet us, to reach us, to save us. God, in Christ, crosses the Lake of Gennesaret in the middle of a storm, goes to any unclean land, confronts any evil, for us. God is with us in the midst of all that terrifies us, all that causes us despair, in the midst of the evil done to us, and the evil we do to others. God meets those lost to addiction, challenged by illness, twisted by hatred, and oppressed by wickedness. God lies down in bathroom stalls with the wounded and the dying in a nightclub in Orlando.”

Read it all here.