Carter Heyward was a guest in the Pullen pulpit on this day. Carter is a feminist theologian, teacher and priest in the Episcopal Church. In 1974, she was one of eleven women whose ordinations eventually paved the way for the recognition of women as priests in the Episcopal Church in 1976. She currently lives in Brevard, NC.
Texts: Philippians 4:4-7; Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18-19
Good morning! I’m delighted to be back at Pullen, a church I have long admired. I visited here in the early 80s at the invitation of Mahan Siler and was so inspired by the courage of this parish. Thank you, Nancy, and thank you, people of Pullen, for having me return.
There is so much to say, and so little, about “joy” – not simply “happiness” but that deepest sense of well-being and delight that comes when “we open to that Spirit of Love, Justice, Joy, Compassion, that is ever and eternally opening to us.” It is what the great leaders of ALL spiritual traditions that are grounded in love have known and practiced and taught: that the Spirit of Love, which we Western Christians commonly call “God,” or “the Lord,” Father and Mother of Jesus and all the Saints…this God is not only with us always but, more radically, is in us, working through us, opening more and more to us, inviting us to open more and more to Her, or Him.
In Martin Buber’s famous imaging of “I and Thou,” what Buber and other Jewish, Islamic, and Christian mystics are really saying is that I am opening to Thee just as Thou art opening to me. Our faith is a matter of perceiving what is actually happening all the time, though we are able to see it, catch it, only in intimations and glimpses in those places in ourselves that are most vulnerable – open – to seeing what is really going on – again in mystical language – in seeing through the eyes of God.