Photo by the Rev. Ed Good, used with permission and gratitude.
Like you, I start most days reading the news or scrolling through social media, and it's a lot.
We are constantly bombarded with more information than most of us know how to process. Our political leaders continue to fight, and many people feel scared that rights they once had are being taken away. Certainly, in the wake of the reversal of Roe v. Wade, we find ourselves hearing stories on all sides about what is lost and what is gained in this moment.
When it seems like everything is either/or (you're right or wrong, Republican or Democrat, strong or weak), the Episcopal Church offers an alternative. Our Episcopal ancestors in the Church of England talked about the via media, the middle way.
It's a stance that most people live in-between polarities as multi-faceted human beings. That we have the capacity for nuance and are more complicated than binary descriptions allow. It holds out hope that we can remain in relationship even if we disagree, and that truth is found navigating between extremes.
Via Media Today
Our bishops, including the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and our Bishop Wayne Smith have written statements reminding us of the Episcopal Church’s desire to model a via media even around sensitive subjects like abortion.
The Episcopal Church affirms that all of life is sacred, from conception until death. And we also affirm the right of a woman to make difficult and often heart breaking decisions for her own health and well-being.
We are called by our faith to deal with these issues with a great deal of pastoral sensitivity to the unique needs of individual women and families. This nuanced understanding doesn’t fit neatly into pro-choice or anti-abortion but seeks a middle way.
Similarly, the Episcopal Church affirms the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ people.
We seek to honor the humanity of each and every person. We are learning sexuality and gender may not fit into dualistic categories and we are opening our hearts and minds to the spectrum of ways that love and identity are expressed.
Many of us have been on a journey for a long time, moving away from certain ideas about men’s work or women’s work, or girl’s toys or boy’s toys. We understand that identity is more than these categories and our individual gifts are unique and varied.
The issues of our day require us, first and foremost, to see the people and stories that exist behind the headlines. We are called to seek and serve Christ in everyone, this means looking beyond labels to see each other’s humanity in all of its complexity.
These topics also ask us to hold nuanced positions that don’t always fit into dualistic categories. They call out for us to exercise our via media muscles. We need to think deeply with our minds while opening our hearts.
We are asked to turn towards each other, to move beyond our own viewpoints and to strive to listen with curiosity and love.
Practicing Via Media Together
I would like to invite our community to practice this via media, to gather together for a series of conversations about how our spiritual lives inform our social lives. To work as a church to move beyond our divisions, rooted in our shared faith and love for each other.
These gatherings are a place for us to hear each other’s stories, to ask questions and grow together.
Turning to God, turning to one another, wrestling with the questions, we hold on to hope. Together with each other and with God, we can hold the big issues of our time; we can put our minds together and grow our hearts in company with the faithful.
Bring your questions, your prayerful concerns, your hopes for a different way forward and together we will walk together in love.
Learn more about our Via Media Conversations at St. Barnabas,
beginning Sunday, August 7. We hope you'll join us.