Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Surviving for now...

Well, I survived Tuesday. I had to tell my father he couldn't come visit this week, which I hated. I've just got too much on my plate and need a little time for myself (and to do housework). Besides, he really wants to come on a Tuesday night when the Methodist Men are cooking's pretty impressive.
I'm still having fun working on details for the new service. Maybe tomorrow I'll get around to posting my thoughts about how the Zacchaeus sermon would have been different for the evening crowd. My grand banner plan has suffered a setback; I'd hoped it would be an easy matter to hang banners from the ceiling but apparently we can't, so I'll have to be thinking about how banners on stands might work. My senior pastor had come up with the idea on hanging long narrow banners from the ceiling to set the stage area off, and I'd been really excited about the possibilities. What I need to do is recruit a team to help me think some of this through.
Today we have kicked around the idea of how to allow church members who might not attend this type of service to support it in other ways, and I'm going to have to really continue to ponder that.
This morning's adventure was a discussion of a publication by 2 Methodist pastors of the NC Conference on framing the dialogue over homosexuality in the church. I have to say that I really wish we'd addressed the specific arguments a bit more; instead we talked about how we have conversations about the Church and what's wrong with the UMC (people, mostly, just like anywhere else). What I'd really like to see, and frankly I think the most responsible and Christian response, would be for parties on all sides of the discussion to covenant together to NOT discuss the church's position on homosexuality at this year's Annual Conference meetings and particular, next year's General Conference.
For 40 years, people of honor, courage, and faith in the UMC have argued at each General Conference that scripture definitively names homosexuality a sin. People of honor, courage and faith have argued in response that Jesus' compassion for the outsider (and one could argue easily that gays and lesbians are clearly outsiders as far as most churches are concerned) as expressed in our culture have mitigated the sometimes-disputed verses cited against homosexulaity as a practice....particularly in the absence of a definitive word from Christ himself in the Bible.
One of the two writers of the document we discussed today suggests that any loving, non-coercive, monogamous sexual relationship is seen by God as identical to marriage...which I just can't agree with. I am reminded of the couple who I was counseling prior to marriage who wanted me to ignore the fact that they'd eloped in April when performing their August wedding...becasue God wasn't there. Well, yes, in fact, I believe God was. The church wasn't there because this couple had denied them the opportunity to participate, but God was there. I believe also that Christian teaching is pretty clear that marriage refers to one man married to one woman for life...and anything else is not what God meant.
But is there grace and hospitality to be offered to those with whom we do not agree? There better be; that's how Jesus operated, and it should be how we behave as well. I don't think the issue for the United Methodist Church is that we should or should not change what we say and teach, but instead live up to the ideals of our Discipline in paragraph 161G:

Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self...We affirm that God's grace is available to all, and we will seek to live together in Christian community. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons. (The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 2004)

If we can do this in faith and spend more time on what is more clear and I would argue more urgent (for example, almost any social justice issue you could name: AIDS, hunger, stewardship of the earth/environment, health care) and take a break from thinking so much and concentrate and being the Body of Christ, we might see things a little more clearly, and then, in charity with one another, we might speak a little more kindly and understand one another better. That's my prayer and practice, anyway.


  1. Dear Anne,
    I offically invite you to join RevGalBlogPals --

    I think you would enjoy the community.

  2. Hey Girl!!
    This is an awesome way to see what you are up to.
    Unfortunately, my blog is waaaayyy behind!

    If only Christians, of all denominations, would get over their exclusvitiy and be more Christ-like. All sin is sin and God doesnt rank them.

    Love ya,



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