Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sacred Work

Sunday in church we worshiped using the passage from Matthew 16:21-28. I preached about how important our work is in building the beloved community of God. Much to my surprise I was saying how it is by seeing our work as sacred that we can transform the smallest tasks into ways to bring hope and love into the world. I said even being an usher or hosting fellowship time can be an opportunity to build up the community because who knows if someone will be coming to church and you are the first person they see, and maybe you are the first person all week who has smiled at them, asked them how they were doing. And who knows by providing coffee and a snack you are giving someone an opportunity to talk about their lives with others and find an answer to a question nagging at them all week.
What was surprising about this for me was I did not really plan on saying this exactly. I must confess I was really trying to tie in Labor Day with the scripture , about how sacred work does make a difference. But to compare transformational work that changes lives to ushering? But then it did make sense in other ways, because I have known some very cheerful and inviting ushers who you are always happy to see when you come to church. One of those ushers in fact was on a committee that was interviewing me about my call to ministry. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" was his question that set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Yes, I do, and I do believe that God is calling me to a life of ordained ministry, not just then, but now, and every time I doubt this call, when I want to give up, I think of this man's question, of how he put all of the business of ordination into the context of my belief in Jesus Christ.
If we believe with our whole hearts, minds and souls in Jesus and the path he walks with us on, then I don't have to have all the answers, for all the many challenges of life. But I will find that it is often in the ordinary acts of life that I will find hope, and love, in the kindness of the faces of those who greet me when I come to church, in those who faithfully serve their positions in the church so we can make decisions and move forward in offering a message of love and hope to everyone we can. Is that home baked cookie just a home baked cookie, or is it God working through the person who made them?  All I know is sometimes a hot cup of coffee is just what I need, and having the time to talk to others over that cup of coffee is a divine experience of building a beloved community.
I challenged my community to look at everyone they meet with an open heart, mind and soul, to learn who they are, and in some way remind everyone whose they are. We are God's mysterious and beloved children who are united with one another through the love and hope of God.  As you go through your week I wonder if you  can look at each person you encounter as that sacred child of God who you may want to at least see with loving eyes...let me know how this goes.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Human Sexuality and the Church

On the issue of human sexuality, we are a society that is very often divided. In the midst of this division, how we think about our sexuality is changing. The standard descriptions are being blurred, gay, straight, bisexuality, transexual, definitions are changing from hard set to softer lines. This understanding is one of exploring the depths of each of us, and who we are, not just as we have tried to define ourselves. In the past sexuality has been a mystery to be feared, boundaries set, rules of engagement established. We have divided ourselves into camps, and spent little times to understand one another.
This is all to our failing our understanding our complexity as a human and as a human race. This keeps us divided and perpetuates the ill will towards one another. I would like to imagine a world where we are free to be all God has created us to be, in the great diversity united in the common passion to create a world of peace and justice.
What does the future hold? I am not sure, but hope we can at least have a discussion, figure out how to heal the hate, and prejudice towards people of differing sexual orientation, so people can come out of the shadows and live in peace.
http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/human-sexuality-homosexuality is the site where the conversation is going on in the United Methodist Church. You can join the conversation there, or on line, or with persons in the church community you belong.
Human sexuality is an issue that will not go away as people discover who they are, who they want to be in public, in a free and just society.  My hope is that we learn to accept one another and not blame the ills of society on the scapegoats of those who are different than us. We need to stop living in fear of who we are, how diverse we are, and come to join together to face the hard issues of life, to feed the hungry, to break the bonds of prejudice, to transform the world.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wedding of friends

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man." Luke 6:22

I recently went to a wedding of two friends of mine who happen to be both women. Their service was held in the back yard of supporters of theirs and although it was small, the spirit was of celebration and joy. However, the words from Luke hit me like a lighting bolt  as they said their vows. I have listened to my friends stories of what it is like to interview for church positions and people ask, "What is your sexual orientation?'. Their ordination journey is similar to those who have a call from God to serve, and to make new disciples for Jesus Christ. They have done their work to educate and prepare themselves for this work. They have submitted themselves to the process of interviews, personality tests, and written manuscripts. Their call has been confirmed by those in authority. Yet, this simple question about sexual orientation is asked as though the sexual orientation of someone would then somehow void all the preparation and their call from God to be effective pastors.
Our United Methodist discipline calls on us to affirm the sacred worth of every being, as a child of God, yet we often fall into the trap of defining others by their sexual orientation, by the color of their skin, by the income they earn. We sin against God when we choose to believe that someone is less than, unworthy of being treated as a sacred child of God. And those who live outside the circle of unconditional love and acceptance live persecuted lives, feeling the hate and the anger daily. Yet in the midst of this reality two people, beautifully alive, servants of God, dare stand up and commit themselves to one another, and preach to us a word of love. They did so quietly, not to cause too many ripples, and this reflects who they are. I on the other hand would dare to stir the waters and challenge us to overcome any prejudice, any hatred, any sin with God's grace to welcome those who are persecuted, to offer them a place in our hearts.

Help me O God to melt away all that keeps me from loving unconditionally those you have created and hold dear, Amen