The Disconnect

As I participated in our Annual Conference a few weeks ago in Hutchinson, KS I was impressed and encouraged by so many of the presentations and sermons I had the opportunity to experience. I continue to hear language of grace, welcome, inclusion, and radical hospitality. I am so grateful for this language and attempt to articulate our vision and dreams of being an open church that promotes not only an openness of heart, mind, and doors, but also a people and church that opens hearts, minds, and doors.
I must confess though, I am troubled by the disconnect I find between who we say we are and the reality of who we are. I believe it is fundamentally not only a practical issue but also theological. I find this disconnect between words of “all persons are of sacred worth” and “the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching;” a disconnect between a “clergy’s due counsel and responsibility to perform marriage ceremonies where the decision to perform the ceremony shall be the right and responsibility of the pastor” and “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”
We continue to be concerned about our declining numbers and resources. We continue to look to the future with vision and hope, as well we should. But I see our church deeply divided and conflicted between a theology of grace and openness and a politic of control and exclusion. I see our church deeply divided to the point of even refusing to admit we are not of one mind on this issue let along others. We, I believe, continue to operate in a kind of split personality and theological denial.
We are a church challenged and called to be Risk Taking, Excited, Radically Inviting, and a church of Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors, a faith community ready and willing to Re-Think Church! But I have to wonder if we are really all these things. Are we really willing to risk opening our doors, our minds, and our hearts to all persons? Do we really practice radical hospitality? Do we really believe all persons are of sacred worth? Do we really embrace Christ in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female? Is it within our ability to live a life and faith and practice a means of grace that is inclusive of all? Sometimes I wonder.
The one thing I do not wonder about is timing, because I believe it is time. It is time to embrace who we dream to be, confess who we are, and allow the Spirit of God to transform us within and without into the church God calls us to be; a people of faith truly and radically inclusive as the Body of Christ., a people of faith and love whose Hearts, Minds, and Doors are indeed, Open.
I hope you join us this weekend at the Pride Fest and visit the College Hill UMC booth as we reflect the light of love and Believe Out Loud! I hope you join us Sunday morning in one of our Celebration times as we celebrate our decision to be a Reconciling Church and continue to work toward full inclusion of our gay and lesbian friends, brothers and sisters, family into the life of the church.
It is one of the many ways we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table.
Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

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