This Saturday we welcome two staff members from the Episcopal Church, Heidi Kim and The Rev. Chuck Wynder Jr. Ms. Kim will also be our preacher on Sunday morning. Their positions in the national Church involve racial reconciliation, social justice and advocacy. The fact that our Church has dedicated staff for these ministries tells us that at the heart of what we value as Episcopalians is a passion for both reconciliation and justice -- two chief biblical values.
Our Church generally, and St. John's in particular, seeks to cast the vision of the beloved community so central to the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who our nation remembered this past week. That vision is the vision of the prophets of Israel, and the vision of God in creation, the vision of shalom -- where all people are reconciled with each other and with God, living in right relationship with the planet. To engage in that vision is to see everyone as our neighbor, both those near and far away, even the earth and all her creatures.
Just this week we heard the story of people in conversation about the ministry of social justice in the church. Some of the folks in that conversation believed that the church's social justice ministry was all about having open borders, and they thought the church shouldn't be involved in that. Well, it’s surprising that some people, good Episcopalians, would have that narrow perspective.
Social justice doesn't mean open borders, but it does mean having an open heart to our neighbors. The foundation of our belief, our baptismal covenant tells us, that if we believe God is our creator, that Jesus has come among us in flesh and blood, and that the Holy Spirit is helping us dream the dream of God, then we better get about the work of building God's shalom -- we are challenged to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to love our neighbor as ourselves. That's the work of social justice and reconciliation. That's our vocation as Christians.