From the Dean’s Desk: As with every election, always we begin again...
The Very Reverend Paul Lebens-Englund
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? I will, with God's help. Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God's help.

Dear Sisters & Brothers of the Saint Mark's Cathedral Community,

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep and Healer of the breach!

Like many of you, I was glued Tuesday night to the television, watching closely the results of a hotly, and at times viciously, contested Presidential election. By 1am, Pennsylvania had been called for Mr. Trump and the path to the Presidency had become clear for our new President-elect. What had been done had been done. What had not been done had not been done. It was time, for me at least, to let it be and to turn in for the night. I woke up Wednesday morning, though, to a palpable weight in the air - a heaviness, at least for me, of uncertainty and disappointment.

I'm cognizant of the fact that there are many among us who are rejoicing - who see in this election the beginning of a new day, the turning of a new page into a new future they hope will be more peaceful and more prosperous. And, by God's grace and wise leadership, may it be so.

But I'm also cognizant of the fact that there are many among us who are lamenting this election—and rightly so, given the disparaging language and behavior directed toward them during the course of this particular campaign cycle. To these many (who are, in fact, too many to list), this election represents a very real step backward in terms of their own sense of place and purpose, their own sense of dignity and worth, security and safety. It is, for them, as if the majority of America has given political endorsement and practical assent to the verbal and physical diminishment of their person-hood, and they are rightly fearful, angry, and brokenhearted.

While we're all prepared for the possibility of losing politically in an election year, few of us are prepared to lose so much personally. So while we remain open to the providential possibilities of a new political direction, and will even assure our prayers for its success, we cannot—and will not—remain silent on the personal assault directed toward so many of our beloved community members with whom we stand in unflinching solidarity.

I'm well aware these dual 'partisan' realities exist both in the larger community and also right here in our own Cathedral parish. The grand casting of an 'us' vs. 'them' worldview has come home to roost right here among us, and we must ask ourselves if we're up to the task of engaging this very difficult, very painful - in fact, very frightening - conversation together: building each other up, in peace, and holding each other accountable, in love.

Isaiah's sixty-fifth chapter, from which we'll read this Sunday, casts a vision for God's promised peace - a beautifully complex and diverse, if also imperfect, community of former adversaries, brought together in God's perfect love. We believe, by faith, that a perfect peace like this is God's dream for us. But we know, too, by experience, that a perfect peace like this is elusive - that it takes real risk and real work to heal the breach between us. And it takes both strength and perseverance to persist through very real disappointments and discouragements of each new day—recognizing the glacial pace with which we take two steps forward, then one step back. Hope, against all this hurt, is, to be sure, fragile at best.

I'm asking you, therefore, to join me in these weeks and months ahead in a heightened recognition of the personal consequences to this fall's political process—giving particular time and energy to naming your hurts and hopes in this time of transition and making particular commitments to your own role and responsibility in continuing to gather and to heal in Christ's name.

We are so much better than this season suggests - and called to do and to be so much more. Let's be gentle with ourselves and with one another and see if, together, we might rise stronger and wiser, more loving and life-giving than we've ever been before.

God knows, the world needs us.

Bless you, always,
Paul+