Blog|The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Happy New Year! Whether you watched the ball drop on East Coast time, or stayed up to bring in 2024 at the stroke of midnight, I hope you and yours enjoyed the festivities and the promise that a new year brings.
We need that hopefulness, that promise. On the eve of the new year, I preached about light in the darkness, and specifically how we, the cathedral community, can bring that light to bear around the Israel-Gaza war.
As I write, I’m aware of the limits of statements to positively impact the reality on the ground — and I don’t just mean the ground in Gaza or Israel, but locally. In the framing of Christian ethics, there are three primary conditions to consider: ethical outcomes likethe preservation of human lives, ethical duties like adherence to state and/or moral law, and the cultivation of virtue. While there are many references to virtue, or virtue ethics, in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition, the fruits of the Spirit, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (5:22 NRSV), provides a good summary: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
For us who are mostly at some distance from the conflict, the arena over which we have the most control and greatest impact is our personal conduct, including what is fermenting within us. If we are seething in anger and lashing out in protests or in social media, we are not exhibiting fruits of the spirit, and are not well equipped to contribute to reconciliation or right relationships, locally or anywhere.
In my sermon, I cited Combatants for Peace (CfP) as a model. Founded by Palestinian and Israelis, men and women, the organization consists of people who have laid down their arms, and committed to the ways of non-violence. Among their work is an annual binational memorial for those who have lost their lives to violence. Grace Cathedral, along with many other organizations, has sponsored this important work.
Joining CfP is the Parents Circle Families Forum, a group of Palestinian and Israeli bereaved families working for peace and reconciliation. They have created a pledge of personal disciplines that will further peace, a pledge for peace. What they propose is deeply consonant with the values of our tradition and this cathedral community. I invite you to join me in the pledge, and in the inner work that makes us ready for reconciliation.
The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi