July Communique Letter from the Bishop

Dear brothers and sisters in the Diocese,

One of the first choruses I learned when I was a new Christian had these words: “God is our refuge, our refuge and our strength, in trouble … a very present help. Therefore, will we not fear…” The words come from Psalm 46, which goes on to speak of God’s faithfulness in the midst of earthquake and flood.

I share these words because we are tempted to find refuge or an easy means of escape in other places, including endless online news and social media. As Beth Kirby points out in her personal reflection below, we can easily forget to rely on the Holy Spirit. 

It is also easy online to get too drawn into the debates of our time, be they political, cultural or medical, while losing sight of our hope and identity in Christ. One of our deans recently shared this significant observation with me:

I’m often saddened by the ignorant or inflammatory things fellow Anglicans post on social media. I think all of us should be cautious of all public platforms. We are never speaking merely for ourselves. Our so-called “personal” Facebook account is still a statement on behalf of the Church, for we are the body of Christ. As ambassadors of Christ, bearing the name “Christians,” we also represent him.

Along these lines, let me commend Archbishop Beach’s Code of Ethics. Please remember that non-Christians, as well as Christians, are observing not only our opinions but also our attitudes. Jesus cautions us never to call people fools, and this applies even when we disagree with them (Matthew 5:22). We may only take part in debates about issues if we respect the humanity of those with different positions. If they disrespect us, we must patiently turn the other cheek and forgive. 

Ask the Lord to give you greater faith and wisdom during the floods and earthquakes we are facing in our nation. Please pray for our country. May we all find the Lord to be our present help in time of trouble. 

In Jesus the Messiah, 

+Neil