Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Even when fear sounds reasonable - it's still fear

There has been a lot written lately about the PC(USA) being "deathly ill." The symptons are attributed to a contagious virus, carried by some fellow Christians. The source of the diagnosis does not exactly say that, however, the intent to form a "more perfect union" elsewhere, away from the contagion makes that pretty clear. Away and protected in a designed bubble where communication with the outside carriers of the dread disease would be, unmistakenly, at arms' lengths, while the air inside remained pure.

It is no mistake that the notice of serious illness comes for the PC(USA) in the midst of a ratification campaign on Amendment 10-A. And, it is no mistake that the clear cause of this malady is the possibility that people who are LGBT might be fully welcomed in this church.

OMG. Imagine that.

Yes, fellow LGBT Christians, for some, we are the cause of all that is wrong with the world. We are the plague against which the immunization of distance and separation is the only hope. As intelligent and thoughtful as some may be in their compositions, essays, and comments, it is still all about fear. Fear, simply, of us.

There is even a progressive group that is referred to in the comments of those proclaiming the near death of the PC(USA) as understanding. They are seen by the diagnosticians as recognizing the validity of the position of those who would secede if we don't. In an oblique reference, the group welcomes the conversation.

More conversation? Naw. Are any of them gay. Have any of them  read Martin's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

This Sunday's reading of Matthew includes Matthew 5:25 "Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him/her, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison."

Coming to terms is not a command to acquiesce or entertain bigotry, but a charge to do everything one can to settle a dispute. Once all has been done that can be done, one moves forward and continues to love the accusers and those in fear of the accused.

That's where we are. We now go forward and continue to work toward ratification of 10-A, standing clearly behind its tenets and being clear to others that this is a church, at least for those of us who believe so, that can no longer marginalize our sisters and brothers who are LGBT.

And we make it clear, that when all is said and done and  our doors are opened wide to all as sisters and brothers of the same Creator - that we will not only turn around the irrelevance of church that so many complain of but that we will more importantly discover there was never anything to fear, at all.

Nope, not a thing.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Opening Welcome, Sunday, February 6, 2011

When I hear things being described as complex, I often wonder if the word complex is really a code word for delay. Certainly, there are complex procedures I would never want to see rushed, such as planned major surgery. Yet, survival – even under complex situations – sometimes calls for quick action and a willingness to assume more risk than might be acceptable under different conditions. Delay, in other words, is past its time.

Yesterday, while listening to the pundits discuss the unfolding events in Egypt, one of the non-Egyptian journalists acknowledged that he believed it was time for a change but that any transition to democracy should be slow, cautious, and well-planned so the right people are elected. A thoughtful and impressive Egyptian reporter took the journalist to task. She asked him what gave him the right define democracy as anything other than the will of the people of Egypt who had been under the current regime for more than three decades. It was theirs, not his or any other's to decide. And it was time...

It reminded me of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the letter he wrote from the Birmingham jail, where he was imprisoned for his non-violent protests. Clergy, reporters, politicians, and others were encouraging him to “slow down, take it easy, and not rock the boat.” Martin, you see, knew it was time, as well.

By the time oppression, marginalization, and violence reaches the level of such protests as the ones we see today in Egypt, or have recently seen in Tunisia, the Sudan, and other places – or the ones that brought forth the Civil Rights Act, or even the ones today seeking inclusion for the LGBT community in our society and churches – we are already in critical condition. There has already been enough pain, suffering, and violence to perform emergency surgery. Complex or not. Delay is past its time.

Too often, too many people pay the price before the changes occur. Too often the most peaceful and loving are the first to experience violence.

Today, as we enter into prayer and open ourselves to the presence of Jesus in our lives, I think it is fair to say that he, too, would agree with Martin's words:

“But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word 'tension.' I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

As we approach the Communion Table this morning, living into this world that seems broken – and is – in many places, let us embrace the tension that produces growth, growth which will always be best nurtured – even in its tensest of moments – by love.

Come, let us worship God together.