Sunday, June 11, 2006

What We Know

I commend to you the homily preached by Integrity past-president Michael Hopkins at our Integrity Volunteer Orientation and Eucharist last night here in Columbus. Always a gifted preacher, Michael articulates our call to speak our truth in love to a church that will sometimes not hear it firmly grounded on the doctrinal foundation of the Holy Trinity. It was truly an inspiring beginning to our work here together at General Convention 2006. -- Susan

What We Know

We speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen.

Here we are, a gathering of orthodox Christians celebrating the Feast of the most blessed, glorious and holy Trinity.

The timing of this General Convention, so much earlier than it has been in the past, was a point of some controversy, but one wonders if it was not a piece of the divine humor to help make it be so. It is as if God is saying, “Focus on the mystery of my life before you start mucking around any more in your own.”

For me, one of the important things to remember and hold dear about the notion of the Trinity was that long before it was codified in doctrine, it was testified to in experience. The Trinity, for the early Church, was a way of talking about the experience of God, not a way of defining what that experience should be.

Anything we call Christian Truth has always worked that way. It was first an experience of the People of God, and only afterwards a doctrinal statement.

Those who criticize us for lifting up our experience and asking the Church to discern with us the work of God in it rather than “making the theological case,” are simply mis-remembering how it works and has always worked. Theology always follows experience.

That is precisely what the readings for Trinity Sunday mean to remind us about. It was Isaiah’s awesome experience of God that led him to his “yes” to mission. It was Paul’s experience of God’s “yes” to him that enabled him to speak of God’s “yes” to others. And in the Gospel reading, it is an experience of God, rather than theology about God, into which Jesus is trying to coax Nicodemus.

“How can these things be?” Nicodemus asks. Jesus’ answer is revealing. After a gentle chide, he answers.

We speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen.

Among other things, this is a statement of how Jesus does theology: from experience. It is, I believe, how Integrity, specifically, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons generally, have been making their witness and helping the Church do its theology for the last thirty years and more.

It was thirty years ago in 1976 that Integrity first had a presence at General Convention, a presence that resulted in a promise from the Church of our full inclusion, a promise we are still waiting to be fulfilled. For thirty years—11 Conventions—we have kept coming back and doing two simple things—offering our experience as Christian people to the Church and asking for the promise to be fulfilled.

Read it all here


Renee in Ohio said...

We speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen.

That's an important statement. I've been a bit groggy today and am not remembering this as well as I'd like to, but our rector at St. Stephen's, as an aside when preaching about the Trinity this morning noted that GLBT people, when relating to him their experiences of "coming out", tend to use religious language--even when the speaker is not aware that he's a priest. Something about coming to wholeness. Wish I could remember it better, because I recall it being an important point--something along the lines that no matter what the outcome of GC, it won't make these people's experiences less true or real.

I think a lot of us--especially women--are raised to be sensitive to people's feelings, and (in most day-to-day circumstances) to avoid discussing things that make people uncomfortable. But when your very being, "speaking of what we know and testifying what we have seen" makes some people uncomfortable, then keeping people from being uncomfortable comes at too high a cost.

Finally, speaking of speaking of what we know, I thought you might be interested in something I wrote earlier this month.

Married 19 years this August. Activist judges to blame.

Catherine said...

Thank you for sharing this Susan. I read it in its entirety and was deeply moved by it. If only our more conservative sisters and brothers could understand. We have so much more that unites us than divides us. And Renee's piece truly points that out in civil cases.

I will continue to pray and hope for reconciliation and understanding all points of dispute.

Anonymous said...

It absolutely astounds me that you all see yourself as orthodox. It is clear that we have two religions in ecusa and for you all to attempt to usurp the title orthodox is genuinely reprehensible.

Catherine said...

Cheers to the Moderator for such gracious diplomacy. We all deserve a second chance.



Anonymous said...

I respectfully ask - what facet of church life excludes LGBT people? I see a statement repeatededly that the goal is "full inclusion."

Also, let me ask - What makes me heterosexual? I certainly feel that I could choose to enter into a homosexual relationship. Moreover, I know of many porn stars who choose to do just that for monetary and/or safe sex reasons. Are those women fairly characterized by their genes (presumably hetero) or their choices?

Last - a simple quote - Bob Dylan I think: "The preacher was talkin' there's a sermon he gave saying' every man's conscience is vile and depraved. You cannot depend on it to be your guide when its you who must keep it satisfied."