In the words of J. Philip Newell, we need to ask God to grant us "strength to cry for justice, to be patient for peace, to be angry for love. Grant me the grace of a strong soul, O God, grant me the grace to be strong." (From "Sounds of the Eternal")

When I first saw in this prayer the petition "to be angry for love" I was puzzled. What does anger have to do with love? Anger is usually a reference of being enraged about something, while love connotes a strong affection for another. How do these two emotions go together? Does Newell mean angry because we love?

People seeking justice can be angered by the wedges that keep us apart. Civil rights leaders are impassioned by the desire that all people of any color, race, or nationality be treated with equal respect and dignity. They are angry about favoritism toward some and abuse for others. In the past, I too became angry about separate restrooms for blacks and whites, and signs on restaurant windows, "No colored people served." Why did race make a difference in either of these situations? I remember getting on a bus in the South and going to the back of the bus where I liked to sit. I was told by the driver that I had to sit in the front. The back was for blacks. Many of you can tell your own stories of racism.

It's not only on race issues that one can turn impassioned anger into love. Religion continues its heritage of segregating people by class, gender, race, nationality, and sexual orientation. People who are Muslims or Hindus suffer persecution, especially from Christians. We know that many people in Muslim countries are not allowed into the USA. Jews have been persecuted for centuries, and temples and mosques are vandalized or burned. I don't need to give more examples for us to realize the need to be angry for love.

Tragically, the two largest protestant denominations in America have their own standards of segregation. It has to do with who is eligible to be received into the full life and ministry of the church. Official policy states that only heterosexuals are allowed to become ministers, with men as the preference in some churches. In other denominations, women are forbidden to teach or preach. It is thought that since Jesus chose twelve men to be his apostles, men only should be ministers. They don't have to be Jewish, however, as Jesus' first disciples were. These folk forget that the first evangelist after the resurrection was a woman, Mary Magdalene.

Meanwhile, people of other sexual orientations are refused equal status within these Bodies of Christ. Church signs that read, "All are Welcome," should have a footnote reading, •Children and heterosexuals only.

In the Episcopal Church, we have a baptismal vow to "respect the dignity of every human being." When we see dignity abused, we become angry for love. All God's children are to be included in full membership and leadership within the Church. LGBTQ persons are children of God, created in God's image, and entitled to full membership and love within the Christian community. Parishioners currently in denominations that accept only heterosexual clergy may also have the urge to "respect the dignity of every human being."

The Episcopal Church believes that there are no exceptions to God's love. "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them." (1 John 4:16) We believe that God abides in every person regardless of her or his race, religious affiliation, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation. Since God abides in everyone, God does not reject God's Self.

The struggle for mutual acceptance still goes on in our country today. Yes, one can be angry about injustice and strive for equality for all. Love is the medicine to heal our divisions. We can be angry for love.