As we get ready this weekend to welcome Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) Executive Director, Melanie Merkle Atha to St. John's this weekend, we are reflecting on engaging issues of peace and justice as integral to the Gospel mission of Jesus. For the past 80 years, EPF has engaged in the work of peacemaking. Now especially they focus on gun violence prevention, immigration, Palestine/Israel relations, and environmental protection. Those are all key issues in our day. How can we engage with the Episcopal Church, our diocese, and our congregation in advocacy around these issues? More concretely, which of these issues can we address in our own neighborhood and in what ways?
We have been asking the question lately: Who is our neighbor? The answer can be very broad-- all other members of the human family; but also very particular-- those who live around us at St. John's. That was the question we asked during the neighborhood walk we did with bishop Diane Bruce a few weeks ago. Serving our neighbor may not simply entail the larger issues of advocating for peace and justice, but also through works of mercy, in our Food Pantry and Laundry Love ministries, and in other work we may be called to do in the future.
All of these things flow out of our call as baptized members of the body of Christ. Especially during this Epiphany season, we remember that we are challenged to live out the values of the Kingdom of God as followers of Jesus, to bring his mission of love to the world as did his first disciples. Remember the proclamation of his mission statement, given in his first sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth as St. Luke records it:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
EPF will be presenting at St. John's on Saturday morning, February 8, at 9:00 a.m. & after the services on Sunday, February 9. You can RSVP to these events on Eventbrite here:
Saturday presentation and breakfast
Sunday presentation and lunch