As I listened at Morning Prayer today, I had another one of those pinged-in-the-forehead moments with God as we got to the end of the passage from Mark's gospel. Jesus has just finished describing the history of how the human race has dealt with God, the prophets and ultimately how they will be dealing with him; namely, they're gonna kill him, throw the body out, and keep the vineyard that belonged to the owner. Jesus asks his accusers what the vineyard owner in this parable would do? And then answers his own question by saying the vineyard owner will destroy the wicked tenants and give the land to others because:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’”
Interestingly, this was a passage I quoted to someone yesterday when talking about church "things" with the diocese of Florida. And it's what has been on my mind recently as I think about the place of LGBT Christians in the church. I believe that it is in the interest of the church, if it wants to have any relevance or expectation for growth, to be very careful about who it has chosen to reject. I have been thinking that the return of gay people into the church and their desire to find a faith community is a sign of God's mission to reclaim all the wandering ones and guide them back home. Much the way "Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head and cornerstone," the community of LGBT people who are entering (or re-entering) the church is about bringing those whom the "builders" have rejected and making them a cornerstone of membership growth. When those who were considered the stranger are welcomed into the community, there is hope. And there is God.
What God intends to do with those who return? Well, that's God's doing. But in my own experience, I believe God is looking for LGBT people to fulfill their places in the Body of Christ. We are the arms, legs, toes, fingertips, brains, heart, eyes, ears, and vocal chords just like our straight brothers and sisters. We come in with the expectation that our baptism makes us full members in the Body. We are more than pocketbooks and potlucks. We are people of God and the sheep of God's pasture.
Advice to the builders: take a closer look at the stone you want to reject. It may be the Lord's doing that the one you want to toss into the heap is the very one that is the future of the vineyard that you lease.