Where do I even begin? ( I cant help but chuckle as this is the third time Ive tried to type something on this issue in the last 20 minutes. Maybe Im not suppose to be these words down yet). The last week has been to say, the least, quite interesting after the vote taken at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last Friday. I try not to vocalize where I stand (However Im pretty sure that those that know me well know EXACTLY where I stand). However there are many hurting right now while others are rejoicing. Some are proud to be Lutheran at this point in time while others are almost ashamed to be. They think we have lost the Lutheran foundation. However I keep wondering what does that mean and can things change over time and as contexts and society change?
I hurt…I hurt for those that feel they need to leave the ELCA and/or their church. I hurt because this seems to be such a generational gap in how we feel on this issue. I hurt because it is such a devisive issue and because we cannot seem to come to a clear consensus on what is meant here. I hurt simply because it is so uncomfortable for many of us to talk about. I hurt because people wonder if the conversation even should have taken place. I hurt just knowing it probably will cause members to leave and that makes me sad. But, not only, do I hurt, I find myself also tired–weary, drained; physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. How can we move forward? We need to be a united church gathered at the foot of the cross where Christ is present, God is faithful and the Holy Spirit gathers us as one despite our agreements and disagreements!
I know many who rejoice, but rejoice quietly knowing that in order for them to be recognized in the church, others have had to suffer and struggle with this as well. I also find myself asking and wondering about many who seem to me have the gifts for ministry but have never been recognized because they are in a committed relationship. I also find myself reflecting on how sexuality is exploited in society today. People turn to prostitution, others get divorced, others cheat on their spouse. What does that say? I just find myself praying that we can stay a united, not divided church.
I don’t know what Jesus would say. I think he would tell us to love everyone but does that mean allowing them to be leaders in the church? And as a Diaconal Minister, I find myself wondering what Jesus would say about washing their feet as well. Doesn’t God want us to love all God’s people? For those that have a hard time with the decisions made last week, I find myself not knowing what to say to them. For those that are rejoicing, I find myself quietly celebrating with them as we realize their gifts for ministry as well.
I dont have the right answers but what I do know is that GOd loves all of us and calls us into relationship. God wants us to work together. In the words of my dear friend Mark as he was qouted in the New York Times, ” Lets stop leaving people behind and be the family God is calling us to be!”
(These are my own thoughts and are in no way the thoughts of the congregation I serve or even the ELCA)