As I was praying & pondering my note for June, I happened to see that Bishop Egensteiner’s message had arrived in my emailbox!

His words spoke the message that was welling up inside me. And his writing is far more elegant than mine. So I share his message with you.

"Practice Love"
by MNYS Bishop Egensteiner

Jesus said, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”—Matthew 22:37-39

"Yet before you can love your neighbor—your brother or sister—as yourself, you must first love yourself. And to first love yourself, you must know that God loves you now and loves you always." —Archbishop Desmond Tutu, God Has a Dream

Dear Siblings in Christ, blessings as we find ourselves in the long and rich season of Pentecost. God’s Spirit continues to move among us and through us, the unceasing wind and breath of energy, hope and renewal.

As God’s Spirit invites and empowers us, I encourage you to be open to the possibility of surprise, of new ways of thinking and seeing and understanding. We know this growth is best done in holy community where our disciple companions can hear our stories and share theirs and point out to us, as we to them, where that Spirit is moving and challenging and reforming us. And support us with prayer and worship together.

June is Pride Month. The ongoing revolution of love, both for self and others, in the LGBTQIA+ community is truly that: Ongoing and a revolution. I can remember when the predominant attitudes were “Don’t ask; don’t tell,” and shame. This is still true in many places in our society (faith communities included!) and in our world. But how can we reconcile this shame and rejection with the words commandment of Jesus, inherited from his own Jewish faith tradition and lived out by him, most powerfully in cross and empty tomb? Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who himself followed the Way of Jesus, reminds us that the starting (and ending) point is to know that God loves us now and always, no strings attached, either by ourselves or others. This is in complete harmony with Scripture. I encourage you to read the First Letter of John in our New Testament.

Father Richard Rohr reminds us that “Authentic love is of one piece. How we love anything is how we love everything.” I have to think about and pray on that. I tend to “compartmentalize” my love. I love you all one way, my wife another, the stranger or outsider another, etc. But if, indeed, “love is love,” then all these ways of loving are rooted in my understanding of Jesus’ commandment to love God, self and others fully because God first loved me/us!

Dear ones, God’s dearly beloved, this is our work and how we live like Christ in our communities: to love as Christ first loved us. Father Rohr writes, “I suspect for most of us, [this] is the work of a lifetime.” But just maybe that’s why God gave us the gift of this lifetime to begin with: To grow in our understanding and practice of love.

Happy Pride! Now, go out there and love somebody, with Spirit-power. Don’t forget to include yourself.

Yours in Christ,
+Bishop Paul Egensteiner
Metropolitan New York Synod