“Lord, you who feasted with sinners and criticized the ‘saints,’ have mercy on your Church who neglects the outcast to favor the ‘holy.'” -Brandon Berg on twitter
I’m sitting in my office at church this morning and I find myself in tears over the decision of the UMC to defrock a UM pastor for officiating his gay son’s wedding nearly 7 years ago. Read the full story HERE.
I’m sitting in my office appalled at some people’s responses to Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, saying that he represent’s the “real Christian” view on homosexuality. That is not the Christianity I know. That is not the Christianity I represent.
I’m sitting in my office trying to write a sermon for Christmas Eve that focuses on hope. These stories stopped me dead in my tracks, and hopeful words are hard to find right now.
My heart aches for a broken church. My heart aches for a broken world full of ignorant people who use God and the Bible as weapons to condemn, attack, bully, and belittle. My anger comes from the fact that people are taking words that are thousands of years old meant for a certain time, people, and place, and are trying to apply them negatively to our lives and culture today, when in reality, the ancient world had zero understanding or insight on loving, committed same-sex relationships that exist in our world today. Biblical writings have nothing to say on the subject, but they sure have a lot to say about love, grace, and acceptance. Jesus had nothing to say on the subject, but he sure had a lot to say about the radical love of God and loving your neighbor. We are told in our denomination to “follow the rules”or be “defrocked.” Jesus definitely did not follow the rules. In fact, throughout the Gospels, he broke the rules. He healed on the sabbath, he overturned the tables in the temple, he was constantly at odds with the “pious” and “holy” teachers of the law- and his rule breaking is what ultimately led him to the cross. But death did not win. Breaking the rules and speaking out for what is right is how our society has progressed and evolved throughout history. Breaking the rules sometimes is how love and justice ultimately prevail.
We are in a place right now where we are not progressing and not evolving. Love and justice are not prevailing. So we are stuck- as a people, as a church, as clergy, as Christians. We are stuck. Let’s face the reality.
So while I will need some time to get back to writing my Christmas Eve sermon on hope, I will begin by saying that I will still try to hold out for hope. I will still hold out for those like Rev. Schaefer who will continue to speak for our LGBT brothers and sisters with words of love, acceptance, and justice. I will hold out for hope found in the message, life, and death of Jesus Christ. I will continue to seek the light in the midst of this dark hour of the church. I will continue to love, serve, and be in ministry to and with my gay and lesbian friends, parishioners, and colleagues and pray for a better future.
That’s the least I can do.