It’s been a few days since I’ve added any new posts. It’s not for lack of wanting to write something, but more because I’ve been wrestling with the best way to say what it is I want to say.
And that’s when the Presiding Bishop so nicely provided some words to capture what’s been banging around in my head for the past few days. PB Katharine Jefferts-Schori was in Dallas and visited The Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, a church apparently with a large LGBT population…and a garden that needed blessing.
From the Dallas Voice:
One audience member asked Jefferts Schori how openly gay Episcopalians should respond to church leaders, such as Stanton (Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas), who aren’t supportive.
“Recognize that people come to different conclusions out of a deep sense of faith, and honor that,” Jefferts Schori said. “I think a lot of our difficulty right now is because we’re assuming the worst of people who disagree with us. When we can recognize another person as a faithful Christian who’s simply come to a different conclusion, we start at a much better place than we do when we assume that person is our enemy. So pray blessings on people who disagree with you.”
This is where I’ve been trying to go in my own thinking. I’ve been trying to figure out how those of us who are gay and Christian can sit in the same room with those who are Christian but don’t like gay people. The way I see it, speaking strictly in terms of the Episcopal Church, the progressives and the conservatives who are sticking with the Church have to start from our common denominator…which is laid out in the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God
The Father, the Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth
Of all that is seen and unseen…
If we can stand together on a Sunday morning, and say this prayer—and mean it---then my hope is that even as we disagree on matters of sexuality, we can do so without the condemnation and accusations that seem to have peppered the debate up to this point. I would like to believe that those who are unwilling to have these discussions have left already (as in Rev. Eric Dudley’s temper tantrum and bolting along with the vestry of St. John’s to form St. Peter’s). For those of us who have chosen to remain Episcopalians, I would like for us to find a way to talk to each other, listening and hearing each other. I want full participation in the Church, not just for me but for all who want to be there. We are all members of the body of Christ, and we all have a place in that body. As we talk through our differences, I hope that the words from Morning Prayer will be at play:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Meanwhile, back in Dallas…
Another gay audience member who said he met his partner of 10 years at St. Thomas asked when the couple will be able to walk down the aisle together and have their relationship blessed by the church.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen this year,” Jefferts Schori said, adding that the national church’s General Convention undoubtedly will revisit the issue when it meets again in 2009. “I think it certainly will happen in our lifetimes.”
I think the PB might be right on this, although she was speaking in Dallas and not Tallahassee and it might take my lifetime plus half of the next before there’s a sea change of that nature in Florida. Still, I am encouraged that Jefferts Schori believes the Church will one day see the light on this issue. And should some say that the blessing of a same-sex marriage would further tear at the fabric of the Anglican Communion, I say let us simply re-stitch it into a new garment to reflect the true love of Christ for all people. Can we agree on that?
If yes, then let us go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord in a world that needs love and help from on high!