My college roommates received notice that one of their roommates was E. Howard Slaughter. What? Rooming with Howard? Clearly that wasn’t what they—or their parents—had anticipated! As it became clear that I was, in fact, a she, one roommate quickly dubbed me Howie, a name I much later was willing to share with a certain four-footed friend. In reality, that first year was rocky at best. My college roommates and I couldn’t have been more different if we had set out to be. We came from widely divergent backgrounds—economically, culturally and socially. We saw the world through very distinct lenses. It wasn’t an easy year, and I cannot say we ended up friends. It was one of many experiences in my life, however, that I value. It was yet another lesson in the reality that our world is made up of more diversity than we can often imagine or even embrace.
These days it’s fairly easy to surround ourselves with people who think the way we do, even to the point of selecting the news outlets that are likely to reinforce our own convictions. But the God we follow apparently loves diversity—just look at the varieties of species or incredible range of colors or the varied landscapes and climates that make up our earth, this fragile island we call home. While we seek sameness—one of my roommates ultimately joined a group of people who looked just like she did as living with the diversity was just too much—our God seeks miscellany!
We at St. Simon’s are part of a community of faith not because we are all alike—that we have the same economic situations or cultural backgrounds or political views. Rather we are bound together because we are all drawn into relationship with each other by the same God. And we aren’t simply an isolated body located in Arlington Heights, we are part of the larger body of Christ known as the Episcopal Church, a particular thread in the larger Jesus Movement of reconciling Love in the world.
A daughter of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church encompasses seventeen countries and two million members. We celebrate a diversity of people and worship styles following the common form or shape of the liturgy found in the Book of Common Prayer. As one website puts it:
The Episcopal Church follows the “via media” or middle way in our theology and discussions because we believe that, whether or not we agree on a particular topic, we all are beloved by God and can have thoughtful and respectful discussions. There are no prerequisites in the Episcopal Church … everyone is welcome. We honor tradition and strive to live by the example of Jesus Christ, welcoming the stranger and the outcast, helping our neighbors and offering love and forgiveness.
This Sunday, we welcome the Bishop of the Diocese of Chicago, Jeffrey Lee on his official visit to our community of faith. The word bishop–in Greek, episcopos–means overseer, and our bishop is not only our shepherd and pastor, he is also a sign of our communion with the extended Episcopal Church.
A charismatic preacher, liturgist and spiritual leader, Bishop Jeffrey Lee is committed to helping the congregations of the Diocese of Chicago grow the church, form the faithful, and change the world. It is a joy to welcome Bishop Lee this Sunday to share with us in “the breaking of the bread, the fellowship and the prayers” as we share in re-commiting ourselves to living into our baptismal covenant.
Please join us this very special Sunday as we welcome the newly baptized and the Bishop in a joyful Eucharistic celebration with a reception following both services and have an opportunity to hear the Bishop at a special forum at 11:40am.
Hope to see you on Sunday,