Presiding Bishop on Abundant Life

In her Bishops’ Luncheon presentation at Diocesan Council, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, spoke on answering the invitation to abundant life and being called to serve wherever Jesus may lead.

“Holy living is an adventure,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said. “When we accepted our invitation to Christianity, we agreed to live in ways to reflect the love of God, to put a far more equal focus on our neighbors than ourselves, and to be intentionally grateful.”

She spoke to human beings’ focus on self and desire for self preservation, and when that becomes the sole entirety of one’s focus, it is a sin. “The gift of self preservation is meant to be in balance with the self preservation of others. We need to foster abundant life for all,” she said.

The Presiding Bishop spoke to Jesus’ ministry and how he lived into it in very concrete ways: teaching people about God, encouraging people to see God in everyday life, feeding people, releasing people from bondage, healing and reviving life, building new kinds of families, and challenging the powers around him that wanted to limit the access to God.

“This challenge was what got him crucified,” she said. “Jesus’ ministry reminds us that the Kingdom of God is nearer than we know, and we see it when the widow gets justice, when foreigners are welcome and made to feel at home, when children are fed… that is what service is all about.”

She said no one is expendable in God’s economy. If there was room for the robber on the cross next to Jesus, there is room for us all. “If we continue to build connections and heal relationships with immigrants and our Jewish and Muslim neighbors here, that will ultimately help to build bridges everywhere.”

The Presiding Bishop said we can’t be strangers anymore, because we are neighbors in Christ. We are called to serve the vision of a healed world in neighborhoods both familiar and strange. “Who’s crying out for healing? That’s where you’ll find Jesus’ abundant grace. Will you go?” she asked.

“We have abundant life when we are willing to take the risk and to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. Abundant life comes to those who give thanks and share what they’ve received, grace and hope,” she said.

At the conclusion of her presentation, Bishop Gary Lillibridge asked Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori to draw a card from the 2015 Sharing Faith card deck, with questions relating to the annual diocesan theme of Called to Serve. The question read: How does Jesus’ model of being a servant influence your role of leadership?

Chuckling, the Presiding Bishop said she had just talked to that. For her answer, she said what influences her is going into the world expecting to find Jesus in everyone she meets. She said she does not do this perfectly, but that we should go out expecting “radical perfectedness.” “We can encounter people with a sense of hope and possibility,” she said.