When I opened the link to a picture of the Presbyterian Layman’s full page ad in the Wall Street Journal the other day, my stomach twisted. To be honest, I didn’t know if I was more angry or embarrassed. Not because of the decision they were decrying and not because we have been wrestling with the church’s response to human sexuality for so long. No- I was embarrassed because it was an ugly, rude and mean-spirited campaign wrapped up in scriptural references. I was angry because they had clearly spent a significant amount of money on a strategy that may very well rip churches apart at the seams. I was embarrassed because it looked so much like the melodramatic announcements made by pseudo-theologians about the end of the world that attempt to draw people into quasi-cultish versions of Christianity. In some ways it reminded me of Tea Party rhetoric, which didn’t help my queasiness at all.
But the thing that I am learning about ministry is that those first reactions aren’t usually the bet gauge of how to actually respond. Yes, gut checks are important, but they aren’t always pastoral. So I let it sit for a while.
Last night, I met with a group of presbyterians who are trying to find their way to help their congregation become a voice for those who are celebrating the passage of 10A. The tone of the evening was not one of jubilation, but a sense that this was a new call for this congregation. In a presbytery where a vast majority of churches are vocally conservative, this congregation is quietly progressive. In a presbytery where families and individuals for whom this rhetoric is not an issue but a personal attack, this congregation has welcomed nontraditional families. But not with intention. And without letting the community at large know… people have found the church welcoming and stayed, sometimes inviting friends along.
Last night, I heard a faithful response from women and men who are probably 95% or more in agreement with the doctrines used a litmus tests for “orthodox” Presbyterianism- but cannot abide exclusion of their LGBTQ brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, friends and neighbors. And what I heard was “perhaps we are here for such a time as this”. Perhaps this is our time to be strong and courageous, not only like Joshua, but like Esther. The time to stand and speak when it would be easier to be quiet. Perhaps this is when we take the time for hard conversations and risk loss for the sake of those who have had no voice for so long. It seems to be time to put it in writing: all God’s children are welcome to here.
I love these people, even though I am theirs only by adoption. I love that they are writing their own letter to the pastors and the session, asking their spiritual leaders to take a stand. Because it’s time.
As for me and my house? Well, let’s just say the door is wide open and the table is set. Let’s talk.