Clothe Ourselves With Love

“Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15

Dear People of St. David’s,

Last Saturday, a few of us from St. David’s went to the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia for the premiere screening of the documentary, “The Philadelphia Eleven.” The film is about the first eleven women to be ordained priests in The Episcopal Church in 1974. We are planning to have a screening of the film here at St. David’s soon (watch for more details). I’ve written and preached about these remarkable and brave women before, but while watching the documentary a few thoughts came to mind.

  1. It was heartbreaking to hear some of the things that were uttered to these women as they approached their ordination date almost 50 years ago. Derogatory things were said about their gender, sexual orientation, and ability to lead. Death threats were sent to their homes and their lives were threatened because of their pursuit of what they felt God had always been calling them to do. It was sad to hear fellow “Christians” call their sisters in Christ such horrible names.
  2. If it wasn’t for those eleven women, I would not be a priest. I say that because I have been formed by women clergy almost exclusively. My rector growing up, the Rev. Joan Mason, showed me how a priest should be. She modeled the love of God here on earth through her every action and helped guide me from the very beginning. The impact those eleven women had was profound, as it has opened the possibility for women to pursue their God-given call throughout The Episcopal Church.
  3. I am grateful to serve alongside some extraordinary women clergy in the Rev. Elizabeth Colton, the Rev. Sarah Dunn, and the Rev. Nancy Webb Stroud. It is a blessing to have these strong leaders in this wonderful Community of Love.
  4. David’s is a place that is interested in raising up new voices and I am grateful for St. David’s. We are interested in trying new things, welcoming new people, and growing the Kingdom of God here on earth. We are interested in clothing ourselves with love, as St. Paul said to the Colossians, because love is what binds us all together.

I’ve been serving here at St. David’s for a little over a year now. I say that because on Saturday, I will be attending my second St. David’s Annual Country Fair. The Fair is a good example of how far our love extends. It’s an event with great fellowship with one another, connects all of us, and does a lot for our community because all the proceeds go to our outreach partners. I look forward to seeing many familiar and new faces this Saturday. As Christians, as the people of St. David’s, it’s important to remember that everything we do should be centered on love.

Many blessings,

The Rev. Thomas Szczerba, Jr.
Associate Rector