From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: Five years on, Griswold calls church to God's mission of reconciliation, love
Thu, 16 Jan 2003 17:22:21 -0500
January 16, 2003
Episcopalians: Five years on, Griswold calls church to God's
mission of reconciliation, love
by Jan Nunley
(ENS) Marking his fifth anniversary as presiding bishop on
January 12, Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold told the
congregation at the Washington National Cathedral that "the work
of repair, rebuilding, and renewing" the world is one to which
every Christian is called at baptism. That work, said Griswold,
calls for "adopting God's point of view" instead of the limited
perspective of self or nation.
"If we are truly a nation 'under God,' as we say we are, then
God's perspective rather than our own self-interest will animate
both our national life and our being in the world," Griswold
stated. "Otherwise we had better abandon that claim altogether
and admit that our power is the source of our own divinity."
"What would happen if God's justice and peace were our heart's
desire, and the dignity of every human being our deepest
concern?" he asked. "There would be a revolution, which is
precisely what God's work, God's mission, is all about."
Griswold said he came to a deeper understanding of that mission
while standing in the dust and ashes filling St. Paul's Chapel
in New York, three days after the September 11 terrorist
attacks. "Behind the altar hung a small brass crucifix, its tiny
arms extended in the direction of the site [Ground Zero] I had
just visited," Griswold recounted. "In that moment, though numb
from all I had witnessed, and caught in a sea of conflicting
emotions, it became absolutely clear that the tiny brass arms of
the figure on the cross could contain and enfold all the horror,
rage, pain and grief that lay so close at hand in an
uncompromising and enduring saving embrace of unwavering and
God's love is "radically subversive" of "structures of power and
control, assertion, and self-interest," he said. "The good news
is that God's loving desire for the full flourishing of all
people and all things is the reality. All else is distortion."
Griswold added that American willingness to spend more on war in
Iraq than on the AIDS pandemic in Africa is "a manifestation of
evil" and a "form of sin from which we as a nation are called to
Words are weapons
"I'd like to be able to go somewhere in the world and not have
to apologize for being from the United States," Griswold said
January 10 in an interview with Religion News Service. "Quite
apart from the bombs we drop, words are weapons and we have used
our language so unwisely, so intemperately, so thoughtlessly ...
that I'm not surprised we are hated and loathed everywhere I
go," he said. "We are loathed, and I think the world has every
right to loathe us, because they see us as greedy,
self-interested and almost totally unconcerned about poverty,
disease and suffering," he said.
"My sense is that we have been so abundantly blessed as a nation
that it's all the more incumbent upon us that we share those
blessing with others," he said. "God's concern is for the world
and not simply for a nation....Too often we narrow down faith to
serve our own immediate concerns and national interests."
Griswold's sentiments about the threat of war were echoed by
Pope John Paul II in a New Year's statement on January 13. War
"is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest
dialogue, solidarity between states, the noble exercise of
diplomacy: These are the methods worthy of individuals and
nations in resolving their differences," the pope said, adding
his criticism of leaders who "place their trust in nuclear
weapons" and armed force. "War is never just another means that
one can choose to employ for settling differences between
nations," he said.
--The Rev. Jan Nunley is deputy director of Episcopal News
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