“You give them something to eat.” This is one of my favorite lines in all of scripture. It is from Luke 9, the Feeding of the Five Thousand. The disciples turn to Jesus and tell him to “Send the crowd away.” The people need to eat. We cannot feed everyone. The problem is too big for us. And he says to them, “You give them something to eat.” Jesus gives the disciples instructions, gathers what they have, blesses it, and sends them out to feed the people. And it works. There is more than enough for everyone-there is an abundance. If we ask for God’s help, we can do wonderful things, but God does not do the work for us.
We are at our core, an Episcopal school, a Christian school. And it is in our baptism that we promise to be just that. But we acknowledge-even as we make those promises-our limitations and our imminent failure, because we do not respond to the questions with “yes” or “I will.” We respond with, “I will, with God’s help.” We realize as we are promising to give our lives to God, to follow the way, that we cannot do it alone. We need help. We need God’s help.
The last two questions in The Baptismal Covenant are, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”
And our promise is, “I will, with God’s help.” At Episcopal, that cannot and will not be an empty promise.
Make no mistake, Episcopal recognizes the pain and grief recent events have caused for many members of the Episcopal community. And we must remember that our foundation, our commitment as an institution lies in the words of that Baptismal Covenant. We must acknowledge and honor those promises, and as a school we must also teach them to the students who are entrusted to our care.
I am proud to work at a school where inclusion, diversity, and respect are something we strive for and work on daily. But it is not easy work. I suppose it would be easy if we all looked the same, thought the same, and had the same story, but we do not. And that is what makes us great. Learning about the perspectives of our fellow human beings, and especially those that differ from us the most, are the things that make an Episcopal experience uniquely enriching.
Racism, hatred, and violence have no place in our school, our community, or our world. On that we can all agree. But to make that just and peaceful world a reality, we must work at it. Jesus tells us the work is ours to do. We must listen to one another. We must listen to the voices of those who speak out and speak up with truth that may be hard to hear. We must seek and serve Christ in all people, love all of our neighbors, strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being. We must work together, and we must do it all, with God’s help.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Diversity of Races and Cultures
O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.