One of the things that I am most excited about from General Convention is the election of Bishop Michael Curry as our next Presiding Bishop. I have been a longtime fan of Bishop Curry. He is arguably one of the Church’s best modern-day preachers, and I believe his passion for Jesus and ability to communicate that passion in a dynamic, accessible way may give the Episcopal Church the boost it needs to get back into the business of spreading the Good News.
At General Convention, Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry preached the closing Eucharist sermon, which can be found here. His words have been rolling around in my mind, but one quote from his sermon stood out for me for St. Margaret’s. Bishop Curry, quoting Max Lucado, said, “God loves you just the way you are, but he [doesn’t intend] to leave you that way.” I think the reason that quote spoke to me so much is because it gets right to the heart of the fear and resistance we as a community have had around change.
In my time at St. Margaret’s we have talked a lot about change. The feedback has ranged widely. “I knew we would need to change, but does it have to be all at once?” “I know we need to grow, but I don’t want us to grow too much.” “I just wish we could go back to the way things used to be.” When we are really honest with ourselves, no one really likes change. Change is hard, it involves work, and it means letting go of things we might like. And yet, here Bishop Curry is affirming that God does not intend to leave us as we are. In other words, God intends to change us – over and over again.
Of course, Bishop Curry wisely couches his sentiments in affirmation. God loves us just the way we are. That statement in and of itself is wildly affirming and encouraging. Without changing, God loves us just as we are. I am reminded of that scene from Bridget Jones’ Diary when the unexpected love interest tells the heroine, “I like you very much – just as you are.” But Bishop Curry’s comment is a both-and statement. God loves us, just as we are; AND God does not intend us to leave us as we are. The both-and statement is affirming, challenging, and terrifying. And it is just the word I needed to hear this week as I think about the ways that God does not intend to leave me the way that I am. May you be similarly encouraged and terrified with me!