Of Infinite Value and Worth

The Rt. Rev. Craig Loya

Of Infinite Value and Worth

Beloved in Christ,

 Last Wednesday, the House of Bishops gathered at Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville to elect the 28th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. I have never voted in a diocesan bishop election, so this was a new experience for me. I resolved a while ago that I would not decide who to vote for among the five outstanding candidates until we were in the cathedral together, singing the hymns and saying the prayers, doing my best to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. As I was walking into the cathedral, I found myself thinking, with a sense of deep gratitude: “I trust this group and its discernment completely. Whoever is elected is the right choice.” Indeed, an hour or so later, when we learned we had elected the Right Reverend Sean Rowe on the first ballot, the joy and elation was palpable, overwhelming, and impossible to convey in words. Such a show of unity in discernment is a rare and rich gift. I have known Bishop Rowe for many years, and he will be an extraordinary Presiding Bishop. He is who we need in this moment. 

That sense characterized my whole experience in the House of Bishops this convention. There is a real sense of trust and affection across a large and very diverse body of people, from very different backgrounds, with different sensibilities, and ministering in vastly divergent contexts. 

For democratic governance to be true spiritual discernment, it must be built upon a foundation of trust and affection. I’m more grateful than I can say that such a foundation also exists in and around our diocese in this moment. My favorite part of being your bishop is the delight we take in being Minnesota Episcopalians together. 

That is not true of our national life in this election season. Far from trust and affection, our national discourse is characterized by fracture and fragmentation, scorn and strife. As we seek to discern our role and our voice in the national ecosystem, it is important to remember that Jesus, whom we confess as Lord of lords, does not save the world by becoming one more actor competing for supremacy by winning through violence, power, or snarkier quips, but by remaining firmly planted in the soil of love in the face of the rancor and horrendous evils that human societies are capable of. Our role, and our voice, is not to defeat whoever we see our opponents to be; our role is not to make some cheap and superficial peace. Our role is always to bear witness to a third way, a way that is characterized by actively seeking the good of others, seeing every human being, no matter how vehemently we object to their views, as God sees them: a precious, cherished child, of infinite value and worth. In the months to come, I hope you’ll join me in resolving not to shout louder, but to love deeper. I hope you’ll join me in remembering that our hope is in Jesus, not in any political party or elected leader. We cannot save our nation from itself, but we can point ourselves and others to God’s world-saving way of love, which casts out all fear, overcomes all evil, and defeats even the power of death itself. 

Grace and Peace,

The Right Reverend Craig Loya