Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm giving up literalists for Lent

I'm behind on a number of things this year ... haven't gotten my tax stuff together yet, haven't filled out all the paperwork for the CREDO conference I'm going to in May and -- until today -- I hadn't decided what to give up for Lent.

But now I can cross one thing off the list. And it's not the taxes.

I'm giving up literalists for Lent.

Not forever. Just for Lent.

"Not forever" because I think I really AM called to engage in dialogue with those who disagree about the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ in the Church and with those who think LGBT Americans should be second class citizens. It's part of my vocation that's both a challenge and an opportunity and I am not going to step away from that part of what I do for good.

But I am going to focus this Lent on those who are coming toward the church -- toward Jesus -- toward the Good News of God's inclusive love. I want to free up the time I spend debating & dialoguing with the "The Bible said it; I believe it; That Settles it" crowd and use it to reach out to the "I think I know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one" crowd.

I want to follow up with the literally dozens of folks who approached me Saturday night after the HRC awards dinner with moving stories, tears in their eyes, business cards in their hands and hope in their voice.

  • "I used to be a Catholic ... I miss the church, but ..."

  • "I'm not religious anymore but if I was I'd come to your church."

  • "What times are your services? You're in Pasadena, right?"

  • "You probably don't remember me but my kids were at St. Peter's when you were the chaplain there and I'm here as a straight ally. My son came out a few years ago and when he heard that Chaplain Susan was getting an award he said I had to be sure and come find you and thank you."

  • "Do you have any idea how different my life would have been growing up if you had been my priest? Thank you!"

  • "Do you have a card? Can I email you?"
So these are the folks who are getting my attention for what's left of the 40 days of Lent. This is the "market share" for the Good News who deserve a chance to hear that there is a place for them ... a church for them ... a God who loves them and a community that will support them in their life and journey of faith. The rest of ya'll can hash it out if you want to about who's right about what the Bible says ... or means ... or intends. In fact, let me file a few of my answers "by title" and let them stand until Easter:

  • I really do hear that you believe the Bible condemns homosexuality. I do. And I read the same Bible and come to a different conclusion. Get over it.

  • No. No I'm not worried about the Lake of Fire. And yes, actually, I sleep just fine at night.

  • At the end of the day, I'm quite convinced how we treated each other in the process of disagreement is going count more toward the "final grade" than who won the argument.

  • And speaking of arguments, repeating the same one over and over ... louder and louder ... is the "Ugly Christian" version of the "Ugly American" strategy of just speaking English louder to folks who speak other languages. Doesn't work in Milan and not going to work here.
So onward to Easter. (And our services are at 7:30, 9:00, 11:15 & 1pm every Sunday ... just in case you want to stop by! :)


Holly Hight said...

Amen! Amen! A friend of mine in college wrote her thesis about LGBT Christians. She found for the most part that people left the church when they came out, or earlier than that, only to return to a more "liberal" accepting tradition later in life. It was a wonderful journey of discovery for her, as she was in her own process of coming out. Have you seen this video?

danielj said...

amen and amen

uffda51 said...

Excellent idea!

Sharon said...

Fantastic! Just don't give them to me! =)

A parishioner came storming into my office one time with a Bible in one hand and wanting to know if I had a Bible! He started showing me "bibilically" where I was way off base. He declared that he was trying to save me from the Hell to which I was surely headed because I was leading my flock to be accepting of all people. The name "Jezebel" was thrown at me before he was escorted out.

SCG said...

An excellent Lenten fast!! And feast upon the hope renewed for those who thought they were supposed to stand on the outside of the gates because somebody else told them they weren't included. Amen, and go in peace to love and serve the Lord!

pasadenapio said...

Thanks for this, Susan. Can this somehow go out to the entire world?

danielj said...

I have been thinking today about the two sides of Susan's+ ministry. engaging the endless debaters may be necessary and important, but probably not much joy or success there. The other side, where outcasts come with tears into the joy of the Lord...what a blessed ministry!

i have also been wondering about any GLBT folks who lurk on this they run when they hear all the hurtful stuff, or do they hang in there to hear the good news?

Susan+ has declared a lent on this is my hope that all will use this time to proclaim good news, and invite GLBT seekers to come on in and learn the story of the loving God in Jesus.
from danielj, a straight guy

LGMarshall said...

Literalist/Figurative Bible Believers agree about those Baptised in the Body.... We are One Body, One Church, United in Christ Jesus. We believe in Full Inclusion for all who profess His Name, and bend their knee.

We do not believe that LGBT Americans are 2nd class citizens.

We believe all are created equal in God's eyes. However, we abide [struggle!!] with Biblical Morality, and believe that God's plan for human sexuality is best, even though we fall short. [we do believe that Children and unborn need special protection under the law.] my church, people come up to the pastor with tears in their eyes, and hope in their voice....
"wow, Jesus is awesome."
"I love what Jesus said about..."
"Jesus has healed me."
"Im so in love with JESUS!!"
"Praise Jesus, I have peace now"
"Jesus saved me!"
"Jesus saved my husband."
"Jesus, is getting me through this tough time!!"
"My eyes are on Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
"Jesus is with me in the valley of death"
"I've come back to my first love, Jesus."
"I'm not Religious, and either was JESUS."

lastly, there is no 'final grade' from God, because the Kingdom is not Merit Based. [like all other religions; Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism]. You may enter the Kingdom today- by Grace thru Faith.