I spent three days this week experiencing some of the most powerful preaching and the most inspiring teaching I have heard. Along with Jeff, Maya, our people’s warden Sue, and about 15 other people from this diocese I attended the first Rooted in Jesus conference, in Atlanta, Georgia. The schedule was packed; there were up to 18 different offerings in any given time slot, covering formation, discipleship, evangelism, stewardship, leadership, multicultural ministry, safe church … you name it, there was a workshop on it.

Esta semana asistí, con unas personas de la catedral y de la diócesis, una conferencia en Atlanta que se llamó Raisgado en Jesús. Escuché sermones y talleres muy poderosos sobre todos temas de la iglesia. Escuchamos sermones de nuestro primado el Reverendisimo Michael Curry, el Reverendo William Barber y algunos otros. Estábamos animados en nuestra fe y en nuestro trabajo a compartir las buenas noticias del amor de Dios.

We heard sermons from our presiding bishop Michael Curry, from the Rev. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign, and from several other leading voices. The conference was all about following Jesus, being ever more deeply rooted in Jesus, being affirmed and encouraged in our callings, and being equipped for sharing the good news of God’s love and teaching others how to do the same.

Rev. Barber expounded on the words of Isaiah that Jesus adopted as his mission statement: “the spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.”

He pointed out that neither Isaiah nor Jesus would have felt the need to share this mission if there hadn’t been an urgent need for that good news. Both Isaiah and Jesus lived in desperate times, times of unjust and oppressive government, times when God’s people were in danger of forgetting who they belonged to, times when hope was hard to maintain. He spoke of the heresy of worshiping God without a conscience: of claiming to be a follower of the God of love while neglecting to live in a loving way. He suggested that we live in a similar time, when people who claim to be Christian perpetrate injustice, spread lies, treat their neighbors as less than human, and when other people who claim to be Christian stand by and allow these things to happen. He spoke in a way that convicted us, that got under our skin, that pierced our hearts.

El rvdo Barber predicó sobre las palabras de Isaías que Jesús adoptó: el Espíritu del Señor está sobre mí: él me ha ungido para llevar buenas noticias a los pobres, para anunciar la libertad a los cautivos y a los ciegos que pronto van a ver, para poner en libertad a los oprimidos.”
Dijo que ni Isaías ni Jesús habia compartido esta misión si no se hubiera habido una necesidad urgente para noticias buenas. Los dos vivían en los tiempos desesperados. Habló de la heresía de adorar a Dios sin consciencia. El nos convenció, él tocó nuestros corazones.

Bishop Curry preached at the Revival later the same day. By now you probably know his theme, because he has one theme, and that is our loving, liberating, life-giving God. Just as Rev. Barber had worked us up with his repeated indictment of those who worship God without a conscience, so Bishop Curry brought the crowd to a frenzy with his repetition of love, love, love, and his famous tag line: if it’s not about love, it’s not about God.

El Obispo Curry predicó, como siempre, sobre nuestro Dios que nos ama, que nos libera, que nos da la vida. El nos convenció con la repetición de su palabra favorita: el amor, el amor, el amor, y su dicho famoso: si no se trata de amor, no se trata de Dios.

I cannot recommend highly enough that you find the video of these two sermons and watch them, preferably more than once. I dare you to remain unmoved.

Les recomiendo mucho los sermones que se encuentran en linea.

Today we are celebrating our patronal feast, the Conversion of St. Paul. It’s a story that’s told three times in the Bible, twice in Paul’s own words. We tell the story in pictures here in our windows, starting here by the pulpit with Saul overseeing the arrest and persecution of Christians, his conversion and change of name to Paul, illustrated by the reversal of the colors of his clothing, and continuing through all the episodes in Acts, ending over there with his execution by the sword.

Hoy celebramos la conversión de San Pablo, nuestro patrón. Se cuenta tres veces en la Biblia y la contamos en nuestras vidrieras pintadas. Aqui miras que Esaul está observando la persecución de los cristianos, y su conversión y el cambio de su nombre a Pablo, ilustrado en los colores de su ropa, y en las vidrieras siguientes se cuenta toda su historia hasta que su muerte por la espada.

Before his conversion, Saul was a very successful man, a prominent prosecutor, with full power and authority from the religious authorities, even the power of life and death over his fellow Jews. He was famous for his zeal on behalf of orthodoxy. Everything he did was legal. He was an observant Jew who attended worship and knew the Law: hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only God. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. That was Saul’s law. And he was a successful man. If he were alive today he would probably have a Lear jet and a brace of mansions. But being successful isn’t always a sign that we are doing God’s will, and just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

Antes de su conversión tenía Esaul mucho éxito y poder, incluso el poder de matar a los otros judíos. Estaba famoso por su fanatismo. Todo que hizo fue legal. Asistía al culto y conocía bien la Ley de Moisés: “Escucha, Israel: yavé, nuestro Dios es Yavé-Unico. Y tú amarás a Yavé, tu Dios, con todo tu corazón, con toda tu alma, y con todas tus fuerzas… y amarás a tu prójimo como a ti mismo.” Pero el éxito no significa siempre el favor de Dios, y lo que es legal no es siempre justo.

Saul worshiped the same God that Jesus worshiped. But he had a fatal flaw: he worshiped God without love in his heart. He worshiped the God who brought the slaves out of Egypt and who cared for the poor and the homeless, but he didn’t follow through in his life. He went to the temple on the Sabbath, praised God, listened to Scripture, nodded his head when the preacher spoke of God’s liberating power, and then he walked out and started hunting down his neighbors who followed the way of Jesus. There was no love in Saul’s heart. He was utterly certain that he was right.

Esaul adoraba al mismo Dios como Jesús. Pero no tenía el amor en su corazón. Estaba convencido de su rectitud.

How did a man who espoused this Law dedicate his life to persecuting the followers of a fellow Jew who had lived the Law in its purest form? How did he stray so far from the God of love? Because he was guilty of the heresy of worshiping God without a conscience. Because he somehow separated what he read in Scripture from how he lived his life.

¿Por qué dedicó este hombre su vida a la persecución de los seguidores de Jesús? Porque él adoraba a Dios sin consciencia.

And then the road to Damascus happened. Jesus confronted Saul, not with anger and punishment, but with sorrowful love. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” And as Saul’s spiritual eyes are opened to what he has been doing, persecuting Jesus himself through his body, the church, Saul’s physical eyes are closed and he becomes helpless. And then Jesus goes on to say, “I will rescue you.” Not punish, not reject, not condemn, but rescue. Jesus demonstrates his nature in the clearest way: Saul the enemy of Love is blinded, devastated, vulnerable, but because this is Love that has confronted him, he is in no danger. Jesus will rescue him. His conscience has been jolted awake and his heart broken.

Entonces ocurió la revelación en camino a Damasco. Jesús confrontó a Esaul sin enojo, sin castigo, sino con el amor doloroso. Y él continua, “yo te protegeré.” Esaul, el enemigo del Amor, está ciego y vulnerable, pero el Amor le protegerá. Su corazon se rompe.

From here on Paul could do no other than preach the good news of unmerited grace, grace that he could witness to like nobody else. Paul left a secure and prestigious position to become an itinerant missionary, dependent on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter, constantly on the run, condemned by the civil authorities and his own people. And he is our patron. He’s a dangerous patron for us, if being named for him means that we are supposed to follow his example.

Desde este momento Pablo tenía que predicar solamente de las buenas noticias de la gracia inmerecida, la gracia que él había recibido. Salió de su éxito y se convertió a misionero en camino sin recursos, sin amigos, sin seguridad. Y este hombre es nuestro patrón, un patrón bastante peligroso como ejemplo para nosotros.

The word over my stall there is “Praedicamus”. It means “we preach” and it is the beginning of a quote from St. Paul, “We preach Christ crucified.” It’s a constant reminder that we, St. Paul’s Cathedral, are called to preach as Paul did, to preach God’s sacrificial love, to preach by word and example the grace and forgiveness that we receive from the Cross.

La palabra allí, arriba de mi silla, es Praedicamus. Es una palabra de San Pablo. Predicamos a Cristo crucificado. Nos recuerda que estamos llamados a predicar del amor de Dios, llamados a predicar por palabra y ejemplo la gracia y el perdón de la Cruz.

How shall we preach that word as St. Paul’s Cathedral? How shall we bring good news to the poor, forgiveness to the sinner, comfort for the broken-hearted in the year ahead? We will do it by loving each other, ourselves, and this broken world. If we are to worship with any integrity the God who, as Scripture tells us again and again, favors the poor, the underclass, the powerless and the oppressed we will follow through with our witness and action.

¿Cómo predicaremos esta palabra en la catedral de San Pablo? ¿Cómo proclamaremos las buenas noticias a los pobres, el perdón para el pecador, y compasión para los corazones rotos? Lo haremos con amor uno por otro y por el mundo.

Los predicadores de la conferencia nos animaron a estar incómodos, a resistir y a gritar. Nos pidieron de compartir las buenas noticias de Jesús con los afuera de nuestra iglesia. Jesús nos pide a cambiar por completo el mundo amando a Dios y a nuestro prójimo como él nos ama.

The preachers at Rooted in Jesus urged us to be uncomfortable, to push and resist and rebel and remonstrate. They urged us to go out and share the good news of Jesus with people who will never come inside our churches. Jesus didn’t tell us to increase our average Sunday attendance or grow our endowment; all Jesus asks of us is to turn the world upside down by loving God and our neighbor as he loves us.

Conversion of St. Paul and Cathedral Day, January 26, 2020

The Very Rev Penelope Bridges

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