A Day That Will Live in Infamy

February 27, 2019

This title is not an original phrase. It was spoken by FDR in response to Pearl Harbor being bombed by the Japanese army in December of 1941. Yet on this day, February 26, 2019, something about this phrase seems just right. Today the body of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to approve a traditional plan (I can’t even capitalize the name of it because I am so very disappointed) which leaves in place a decades old statement which allows that “self-avowing homosexuals”  - who are of “sacred worth”, have no place in Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church, no place to live who they are – with the blessing of the church - in marriage, and pretty much anything else they are called to.

“God is not pleased.” This is another quote that is not my own. It is statement of a child in my church who spoke it on Stewardship Sunday to call a people into greater response to God’s call to generosity. I wonder if God is pleased with what our General Conference decided today?

I watched the live streaming for all three days. Powerful worship and prayers. Challenging technology – which is always the case. I heard all sides. This morning there was a woman who stood with her Bible and her Scriptures armed for bear. She read from Matthew… I think. But when I went to look for what she read – I know it started with divorce, but she transitioned to a piece that somehow supported her biblical stance against homosexuality (which is not actually a word in the Koine Greek of the New Testament.). I got so lost in Matthew, in the verses that speak a word of warning: beware of practicing your piety before others, do not judge that you may not be judged, beware of false prophets, then a word of grace - you have heard it said, but I say to you… love one another as I have loved you. I never could find her reference.

My mentor at Meredith College used to speak wisdom to us. He would say, “Sincere, but mis-guided.” Where did we lose the majority verses for the minority?

For most of my life, I have known and loved homosexual people. My freshman year in college in 1964, I had wonderful friends who could not be who they were because of prejudices against them and fears of repercussion. My children had friends who were homosexual. Two of my dearest parishioners were homosexual. I have worked in ministry with homosexuals whom I love dearly. Their names and faces are running through my prayers tonight. They must be hurting tonight; forgive us, dear friends.

The motions and amendments to level the playing field, motions to call out adultery and divorce and infidelity and fornication which are mentioned frequently in the gospels, all those motions were defeated by very small margins. Lord, we need a lot of self-examination if we can joyfully proof-text the Bible, and cherry-pick our Discipline for the purposes of self- preservation and false piety.

Over 30 years ago I sat in a Bible Study where a very famous teacher was reading some of the Pauline texts about divorce and extolling her own virtue and the sanctity of her own marriage. Women all over the room were quietly getting up and walking out of the room in tears. I thought right then, this is not what Jesus would do. This is not what God would want.

We Methodists have much yet to reckon with. Tonight we have gone down in history alongside the Episcopalians and Presbyterians who have gone down before us. Here is where I land: I made a promise to God a long time ago that if I err, I will err on the side of Grace. That is my faith. At this point the church I love not only stands outside the law of the United States of America, I think it stands on the wrong side of history. Furthermore, I think we stand outside of the oneness and welcome Christ calls us to. Tonight, I am praying for forgiveness and healing. God help us all. Amen.

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Oh, Jesus.. You Knew It All Along
March 3, 2019

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A Gaggle of Girls
February 17, 2019