Maurice L. Harris is the new communications minister for the Episcopal Church in Vermont, a member of the ministry support team that serves the diocese. Maurice, his husband Might, and their cat Oscar recently relocated from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Brattleboro, Vermont. (Pictured left to right: Maurice and Might)
I’ve been in labor for three weeks now. Of course, I have no idea what labor feels like, but I have to imagine that this is it. Dangling from the precipice, a wrestling match between birth and death, as something in me fights to live. And so I push. The “For Sale” sign on the front lawn. Push. The things I won’t have room for, paid too much for, and don’t have time to sell. Push. The cardboard boxes, the farewell speeches, and that final wave goodbye. Push.
I push, and I puff three, short breaths, and I push again…harder this time. I squeeze my husband’s hand and push with all my might because the Holy Spirit has put this in me, and this is the closest I will ever get to bearing the Christ child. The best that I can strive for is to bring life into the world that mirrors the Father.
Might and I load up the car. A small apartment in Brattleboro awaits us. It’s cozier than the house we left behind, but this move is the push we need. Oscar the Cat disagrees. The low growl from the back seat is a reminder that change isn’t always voluntary, but we get through it. As for me, I welcome it. Communications, marketing, media—the trades I once knew as secular work—are now reborn as ministry.
As diocesan communications minister for the Episcopal Church in Vermont my role is to engage in, coach and teach communication practices that strengthen our faith and make good works possible. But does this even matter? All good Episcopalians know from Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved by grace through faith—“not by works, lest anyone should boast.” So, as long as we love God and our neighbor, what more is there to do?
Well, we also know that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14). The problem is that we can grow weary in our well-doing if our work is unappreciated. Now more than ever, we need willing hands doing good works—intentional, missional works—radical works that spill from our parish windows, flow into our neighborhoods, and cover the Green Mountain State. Then we need someone to shout about it, to cheer us on, to lend a hand. And that’s where I come in.
Vermont needs what’s growing inside you. Anti-racism education and training—to demonstrate leadership in a state that may not be known for racial diversity, but has a reputation for social justice. Unity against gun violence—so that “violence shall no more be heard in [our] land, wasting nor destruction within [our] borders” (Isaiah 60:18a). The preservation of Rock Point—to give current and future generations “a sanctuary where people experience a sense of God’s presence, the beauty of creation, and a caring community.” There is so much work to do, and this is just the start.
The Holy Spirit has conceived in each of us a work that is fighting to live. Let’s push together and bring life into the world that mirrors the Father.
Maurice can be reached by phone at (513) 704-8395 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org