Friday, April 4, 2008

Fresh Air and Sunlight

After a week of hectic activity: a time to sit and think about - what else? - the movement of this church toward justice, inclusivity, wholeness, and an efficacy in changing the world with the power of the God, joined together with others in the many ways they know God.

I have to refer to God in that way. In fact, those of us who are advocates for full church inclusion of people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender are sometimes accused of having a "different God" than those who oppose such unity. A different understanding of God, maybe - in some ways, but a different God - no, I don't think so.

And, that is what makes a place like the Presbyterian Church (USA) such an important location for the "new thing" we often say God is doing. It is here, in the gathering of Presbyterians and their long and important history, that real worldwide change for families, equality, justice, and God's love in all its grace and healing power sits ready to embrace our Good Friday world. A world that is broken and breaking apart more each and every day.

I cannot believe that the "new thing" God calls us to is to further divide, marginalize, separate, exclude, and close the doors of God's churches and religions upon members of its own family. I know from my own ongoing experiences the anger that is often directed at our LGBT community. Anger and reasons that may be possible to posit in intellectual and theological arguments, however a debate created upon a fundamental flaw: that we are not as much of God as any member of the church.

Arguments and practices that use rational methods for their development do not make the supposition upon which they are applied - true or false. Arguments, papers, and debates that look good and sound good -- don't necessarily make them true -- just crafted properly. All arguments that are based on the premise that people who identify themselves differently in terms of gender are excluded in their fullness as members of the church - are simply all wrong.

This is very important to remember, for me - maybe for you, especially when the voices are sometimes as strong as they are and we are blamed for unrelated and unfounded fears across a broad spectrum.

That said, I do get the fear of others and believe we need to work together to help assuage that sickness, the root cause of all the problems we face. Instead of working together to address the fear of this world and what it is doing to the world, we end up in arguments trying to explain why we are not the root of the problem. In the meantime, the forces of this sickness grow and multiply while we miss the opportunity to end the pandemic that pushes God away.

The beginning for the "new thing of God" my just be to demonstrate to one another and the world that we are willing to do more than others and enter into a "free setting" that opens the ordination process to all. An open process, without the presence of amendments or definitive guidance or other limitations on those who are members of our excluded community. Our requirements and standards are just fine. The elimination of G-6.0106b is not going to suddenly do away with years of seminary, examinations, and process. Those ultimately called will be ready, as they are now - and the "now" will include our entire family.

It may be that more important than the ordination standards being "open," this process will draw us more closely together as a church, not push us further apart. There is no way to resolve our fears and differences without bringing them with us into a time of trust and risk, in the same way Jesus did when he set his face to Jerusalem. This will be good for us, but that is not the main reason to trust. This type of ministry and witness can chase the fear away around the globe. We are not fighting one another, my friends; we are fighting the fear that surrounds us. Fear is the illness we need to work together to cure.

I think that the LGBT Community is here, in this church, to unify it with all our brothers and sisters into a new and fresh face of God in this world. The first thing we need to do is to open the windows and let the fresh air and the sunlight in!

These thoughts on Friday, April 4, 2008 - on a day remembering The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.