Saturday, June 21, 2008

God is Still Speaking!

I love my friend Jan and her blog, Yearning for God. She is amazing.

She got into some trouble recently (persecution ?) for posting about some issues for which she is a passionate advocate, one of those issues being homosexuality and how the church should be a place where all are loved and celebrated.

My own church recently voted to officially be Open and Affirming. I love the statement the church came up with:

We, the congregation of __________________, declare ourselves to be Open and Affirming. We strive to be a congregation that includes all persons, embracing differences of sexual orientation, gender and its expression, marital status, age, mental and physical health and ability, racial and cultural identity or background, and educational or socioeconomic status. We welcome all to share in the life, leadership, ministry, fellowship, worship, sacraments, responsibilities, blessings and joys of our congregation's life in Christ.

That statement not only says we welcome and celebrate GLBT persons but that we strive as well to embrace all kinds of differences among us. We have a member who is president of a county-wide organization working on advocacy issues for those with a mental illness. She brings tremendous energy to her work and has opened the eyes of many persons in the congregation. And the statement is one I can use to help us all become more aware that "children are people, too." It's just a very broad and wonderful statement, I think.

As part of the Open and Affirming process (which went on for about 3 months of study and meetings) we showed the film For the Bible Tells Me So. If you haven't seen this film, please do make a point of purchasing a copy. It's the story of five families, all of whom dealt with realizing that a son or daughter was gay. All were Bible-believing families, so the film looks at what the Bible really says about homosexuality and how love came to triumph over judgment for the members of these families. Of course, for people who have no interest in looking at the Bible in its wholeness, including its cultural context, the scholars who are interviewed in this film may not be convincing. But for others who are even a tiny bit more open, I think the film will be hugely impactful.

The United Church of Christ has a saying: "God is Still Speaking." The Bible portrays marriage as a contract, with women having no say-so in the deal. Woman are mere property. Today, the man and the woman both exchange rings. Today, the man is not expected to take other wives. We have CHANGED, and that change has been God-directed. While its more subtle evil remains deeply entrenched in our culture, patriarchy has been challenged. The Bible cannot be taken literally (except, of course, for those in whom there is such a deep, hidden terror that self-deception has moved them to discount all reason and turns them into perpetrators of hatred, as the film portrays so well, especially in the case of Bishop Gene Robinson).

The Bible is sacred because it is the Word of God seen through the stories and poems and thinking of people on a journey toward God, and the Holy Spirit uses those stories and poems and thinking to move us, too, to hear the Word of God and move us toward God. God does speak powerfully through the Bible. But God has not stopped speaking! God calls us toward love, the kind of sacrificial love that empowers us toward unity through our vast and beautiful diversity.

Thus endeth the sermon.
:-)

6 comments:

Jan said...

Oh, I love all this, Katherine. Thank you for being such an affirming friend, too. I am so glad you are a pastor who can teach the people by your example and love! What a wonderful affirming statement for your church--I wish more would agree to it!

Jan said...

AND I've just ordered the dvd--Thank you!

Gannet Girl said...

Thanks for sharing all this.

We showed FTBTMS at our church a couple of months ago and had a discssion following the film.

Anonymous said...

Amen
D

Rev SS said...

Amen!

mompriest said...

I love that statment. I have the DCD, haven't seen it yet but am thinking, based on what I have heard about it, that we will show it at our parish in some context...