You see my dear candidates, it is not that easy to be an Episcopalian. My God, even our first American bishop was refused ordination by the British because he was not going to pledge allegiance to crazy king George that Americans had just defeated in our Independence War!
God bless those Scottish Jacobites who in Aberdeen, Scotland, dared to make a crack in the Anglican Communion and consecrated our first bishop, Samuel Seabury, against the will of the powers to be at the time. That’s how the light got in and we were able to have our first American bishop.
It didn’t take long for the Brits to realize that we were here to stay, and that we were not anymore the Church of England but the Episcopal Church of these United States of America.
Now, I know that you want to be confirmed and received by me this morning, but I want to make sure you know that we really mean for you to keep the promises that you are about to make.
We really mean it when we ask you to reaffirm your renunciation of evil and to commit to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Yes, my beloved candidates and all of you present this morning in this Cathedral, you need to be aware that we really mean it when we ask all of you if you are willing to persevere in resisting evil and also if you are willing to love your neighbor as yourself.
Not some neighbors but all neighbors. Not just those who talk like you, or cook like you, or vote like you, or pray like you, or those whose affections God has wired different from yours. We really mean all.
I also want to be sure that you know the consequences of responding to the last question of the Baptismal Covenant with, “I will, with God’s help.” It’s important, because with the condition of the world we live in today, it could really make a difference for good.
That final question is going to be this:
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people? Will you?
Will you respect the dignity of every human being? Will you really do that?
Do you realize how many cracks we will have to make to be able to achieve this?
I have to admit that if I say that I believe that we must strive for peace, then I must chisel hard and make a crack at that boulder of war brought to our nation through lies and deceit. A boulder of war that brushes aside the death of over 3,000 American youngsters and now insists on a surge that will only increase the number of those killed.
If I am to declare that I must strive for justice, then I must be willing to say stop the embargo against the people of Cuba. It has failed and it only punishes the poor and the weak and not those in power in that island.
If I believe in resisting evil, then I must do something to stop the exploitation of farmworkers taking place today in Immokalee, Florida.
I must also be willing to look at immigration issues with the eyes of the one who insisted in proclaiming that we must love our neighbors as ourselves.
There are other churches in our country where blacks and Hispanics are kept away. There are quite a few other churches out there where gays and lesbians are bashed and considered evil, where war is praised and encouraged, where women are kept in their place, churches where cracks are not allowed to happen. This Cathedral is not one of them.
Now if you really insist on becoming an Episcopalian, then welcome to this church and help us to make sure that we keep some of our cracks. It’s important–you see, that’s how the light gets in.