It seems at times, that time stands still, in this weary world of Chinese Flu, extreme lockdowns, and punishing masks. For children, the costs are horrific and ongoing here in California. For young adults, suicides are on the rise. For the rest of us, fear hovers and shades our every move, every social gathering, every event. We wonder if freedom is bound and captive, if speech is silenced, if elections are rigged, if justice is bribed or threatened, if truth is honored, if reality is real. We wonder if America is imploding, if churches will go underground.
And so I approach Sundays with gladness, being reminded that the illusions of our current state are just that: illusions. We the people need not fear. We the people will gather in real time and real space to once again worship God, boldly and mask-free, our faces open and loving and praising Him. Freedom is not yet bound by ties of tyranny, but as free flying as we desire. Speech is spoken to those who listen, who have ears and who hear. Elections are not always rigged, and we still have the power to ensure they are not. Justice is not always bribed, and we can make sure that justice is blind not bribed, blind to favor, blind to threats, blind to extortion and mob rule.
We the people must awake from our deep slumber. We must listen and learn and love. We must protect our peace, our communities, our children, from the violent hordes who believe the lies.
Today, Sunday, was especially blessed, and I was made especially glad. For from the dark jungle of the week’s rioting and untruths, I entered a space of peace and truth.
And even better, a space of hope for the future.
For this last week was our Anglican Synod, a yearly gathering that met in real space and real time. While I wasn’t able to attend, I learned much was accomplished and much celebrated. Two deacons were accepted for the next phase of their calling, the priesthood. A priest was consecrated bishop. Our faithful and steady Anglican Province of Christ the King is stronger than it was last month – stronger in faith, discipline, and vision. They are unmasked.
And today we heard the Gospel appointed for the Feast of St. Mark. Jesus the Christ says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:5-6) Mark traveled with Peter and wrote his Gospel account based on Peter’s witness. He was a branch sprouting from the vine, a branch from which we descend. We tap into the same source of life as the first apostles.
Knowing that we are a part of the Body of Christ, branches of the vine going back two thousand years and living today, gives us hope that we need not carry the world upon our shoulders. And yet, if we do not abide in Christ, if we are not a branch of His Vine, manifested in the Church, we will not bear fruit and we will be lost.
One of the preachers I heard this morning in our virtual liturgies said that in this world of threatening events, we need to remember that we are Christians first and citizens second. While we render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, we must uphold our Christian faith first and judge accordingly. Should the two come in conflict, our faith must direct our actions. For we are branches of the True Vine and can only bear fruit if we remain so.
Recently I read a good summary of Critical Race Theory and the horrors this movement is inflicting upon our children through education at all levels. This Neo-Marxism, developed in the 1990’s, has produced its own branches over the last decades: “social justice,” intersectionality, identity politics, cancel culture, speech silencing, erasure of history, and white guilt, to name a few. These narratives inflame and divide and are based on lies. They cut off many well-meaning Christians from the True Vine. They deaden souls. Division, chaos, and anarchy result, all satanic deceptions.
It is encouraging that parents are now protesting this K-12 propaganda. We are called to tell the truth and to support those who are brave enough to tell it as well.
And so we pray and we praise and we read our Scripture. We open our eyes and our ears and bear fruit for Our Lord. We call upon Him to lead us in all truth, in all love, with His vision in our hearts and souls, always remembering we are branches of His vine. He is our life. We need only look to Him first in all things.