BISHOP GRISWOLD: There are a few things I want to say based on the day we've lived together and the various words we've heard.
I was struck by Robert Kegan talking about attending and accompanying, and speaking also of a parent giving freedom to a child to discover its own identity, which I think is very much God's way with us. And I was thinking in relationship to God's way with us of that phrase we use so often, "Your will be done." And what is God's will? Now it's interesting to look at the Greek because the Greek word doesn't simply mean "determination, you know, someone else's determination that something should be so, a sort of divine "ought, "you must, "you should, but, rather the Greek word for will carries with it overtones of delight and affection. And so I would prefer whenever we read in our prayers, "God's will" or "Your will be done," I would prefer to substitute a phrase like "passionate desire." "Your passionate desire be accomplished," because God's will is shot through by God's love for us. And I think here of my own will for my daughters, who are adult women at this point, and it's not that they do what I say or please me in some sort of arbitrary way, but, rather, my will for them is my passionate desire for their happiness, their joy, their fulfillment, my hope that along life's way they will acquire wisdom and insight -- wisdom and insight derived from the circumstances of their lives, their choices, their struggles, their successes. That's what my will is for them, and I think that's something of God's will for us. To use Parker Palmer's phrase, "God's will is God's wild craziness about us. And I think that's something we don't often think about. And that's what I was trying to suggest a bit last night when I was talking about the first love.
The first love is God's love for us. Jesus' self-awareness was rooted and grounded in a sense of his own belovedness, and each one of us, God says in unique, but very personal ways, You are My beloved daughter, you are My beloved son. I am wild crazy about you." And this wild craziness about us issues in what scripture calls "freedom." "For freedom," Paul tells us, "Christ has set us free." Of course, freedom from our sins. That's the classical way of looking at us, but what is one of the most significant sins we commit? It is the sin of self-castigation, the sin of fixation on our own imperfections. It is the sin of preferring our own sense of shame to the boundless and profligate mercy of God. And I think here of Paul's struggle with the thorn, and we all bear thorns in our flesh -- if not our actual flesh, our psychic flesh. And Paul obsessed with this mark of imperfection, of course, prayed three times, we are told, and, of course, three times means lots and lots of times, and what did the Risen Christ say? "No way. It stays. And all you need to know is my grace is all you need because my power is made perfect in the midst of your weakness, in the midst of your own imperfection." And I think it was the incredible experience of liberation from himself and his own self-preoccupation, his own past and all the rest of it that made it possible for him elsewhere to cry out, "By the grace of God, I am what I am, blots, blemishes, imperfections, and a hideous past history." All that is nothing compared to the liberating love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus. So this deep awareness of this freedom which is a freedom from ourself, our self-preoccupation is wrought in us by the Spirit, and is the essence, I think, of what Paul means when he talks about the glorious liberty that belongs to the children of God.
But Christ not only sets us free from hostility directed against ourselves which we so often then project onto others, but Christ also, in a variety of ways, says to us, "Surprise me," because with freedom goes, on the part of the One who gives the freedom, and this is certainly the way I feel about my own children, "Surprise me, surprise me, delight me, do wild and wonderful things that show me who you are as distinct from me and yet related to me in the fullness of love we share with each other." And I think sometimes we think of God's will in too narrow a way as though there is a terribly specific moment by moment, "you ought, "you should, "you must" that God has in God's consciousness. When I think God says, "I love you. I'm giving you freedom now," theres a variety of things you can do. I mean I feel I could still be a parish priest and I would feel that God was supporting me in that vocation. I don't have to be either a bishop or the presiding bishop in order to do God's will; I just have to be about the kingdom and God's values. And that's the way I think the freedom of God, the will of God works with us. I think God gives us a wide variety of options and says, "Now show up to life, in the fullest of my love for you and do daring and bold things." And one of the great words in the New Testament particularly the Act of the Apostles and the apostolic writings is boldness, boldness. They speak with boldness. "I boldly do this," and all the rest of it. "Be bold," and boldness is one of the gifts of the Resurrection. It's what happens when new life overtakes us and sets us free. We become bold, we become daring, we become surprising often to ourselves. I mean grace often shocks us when it works within us and we find ourselves in situations saying things, doing things that we know in other circumstances we never could possibly do. And that's the way we live into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
So the question is, are we willing to claim this freedom? Are we willing to give root room to God's wild craziness about us, or do our own sort of self-judgments get in the way? And I hear or think of that wonderful poem by George Herbert, "Love made me welcome, but my soul drew back, guilty of dust and sin, but quick-eyed love pressed on and finally said, 'Shut up, sit down, and eat my need and stop feeding on your self-pity, guilt and shame," and God has to shock us out of that self-preoccupation from time to time.
So are we willing to claim that freedom, give root room to God's wild craziness about us, which is to live into the fullness of our name, our identity, our vocation and missions, which is a life-long developmental process to be pursued with gusto.