I write to you in the wake of two events from the weekend that try our faith and test our courage. First, on Saturday our diocese gathered in convention, and a canonical change was considered that would have advanced the goal of full marriage equality in the Diocese of Dallas. Many of us hoped the outcome would be different, but the status quo of unequivocal opposition to same-sex marriage in Dallas remains. I have heard from many of our gay and lesbian members expressing hurt and pain, and I want you to know that you continue to be loved and honored as equals here at Transfiguration, and the Vestry and I remain steadfastly committed to working for a resolution that will enable us to celebrate and perform the marriages of all our members.
Then on Sunday, even as I preached a sermon on seeking joy in the Christian life, a man with a frightening history of domestic violence and instability used military-grade weaponry to murder 26 innocent people inside their church. It is the latest in our nation’s ever-mounting list of mass-shootings, and just as with the murders in a church two years ago in Charleston, it feels especially egregious given where it occurred. As my friend Barkley Thompson wrote, “he robbed men, women, and children of their lives as they worshipped the God of love, and he profaned the sanctuary that intends to be a place of refuge.”
It is important that you know that earlier this year the Vestry developed emergency procedures to direct how our church should respond to medical emergencies, natural disasters, and violent attacks, and we have already begun training all ushers, teachers, and staff on how to implement them. We are also discerning additional courses of action to promote the safety of everyone who visits our campus, while not giving in to fear or sacrificing the spirit of peace that is a hallmark of the church.
In both these situations, I am reminded of Paul’s admonition to not to “grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).” Now more than ever we must hold fast to that which we believe, that for which we hope, and most especially to the One in whom all things are brought to their perfection. If we grow weary and succumb to the temptation to give up and grow bitter or cynical, we will have given up the holy work to which we are called as disciples of Jesus Christ. The day is surely coming when all instruments of violence will be turned into tools of tranquility (Isaiah 2:4), when the dignity of all people will be truly respected by our diocese, and when the peaceful and just Kingdom of God that we see now only through a glass dimly will be fully experienced by all.