At the Bishop’s Luncheon, the Rt. Rev. David Reed invited the Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutiérrez, Bishop of Pennsylvania, to speak to our 2019 theme, “Walk in love as Christ loved us.”
Bishop Gutiérrez began in gratitude, thanking both bishops, the gathered congregations, and clergy. He shared that, “I want to recognize and bless your sacred calling, for what you do matters in this world. Your ministry has meaning, and like ripples of water on a vast sea, it touches the shores throughout the earth. Faith is inspiring, moving throughout Texas it touches Pennsylvania, the Episcopal Church, and impacts the world. Part of my family lives in Texas, and I was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Bill Frey. I have many friends in this diocese and state. So in a sense, I’ve come home.”
As he expounded on the theme of walking in love, he candidly wondered at the ways the world complicates and conceals the true, overwhelming, all encompassing love of God. “Why is it the world seems to miss the beauty of God? What do they hear when we say, ‘walk in love as Christ loved us?’ Do we take into our souls the shattering impact of that divine love? Or do we lock it in our heads, where it stays dormant in our hearts. Love – it transforms and enriches. The word carries power.” And, “at times the church has neglected to explain, embody, and walk in love. We throw out the phrase, and it becomes mechanized, structural, goal-oriented. Programs meant to inspire become stagnant, rather than transformational.” Throughout his address, the crowd nodded in agreement, listened intently, and laughed.
In a clear and conversational tone, he told stories from the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, where the sacred presence and love of God shines through, illuminating ways that we can walk in faith in the present day. Inviting the assembly to imagine what it felt like for the disciples to meet Jesus for the first time, he pointed out that when, “they encountered Jesus, they fell ‘in love’ with him, and that love deepened as they were transformed. That love then transcended all they had, and they lived differently. There is often a disconnect with the stories of love that we read in the Bible and what is actually occurring in our lives, but you are the same followers. You are the apostles of this age.”
Bishop Gutiérrez called on each person in the room to remember the first half of the theme verse, not to stay in the pews in love, but to walk out into the world, in love with Christ and inspired to share that love with God’s world. “Love – the final promise that God’s love wins. For blessed are you because you are God’s beloved. Walk, walk around like you are completely in love. May you always be in love.”