Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Grace for All

The big news at this year’s Pen-Del Annual Conference was a proposed resolution that would affirm the right of homosexuals to become members of the United Methodist Church. There was a church in another conference, where membership was denied, and this would officially disagree with that decision. Unfortunately, it didn’t pass. This doesn’t mean that gay people can’t join our churches, it just means that they aren’t guaranteed the right.

This really frustrates me, because we don’t generally deny membership for any other reason. I suppose there are churches that don’t allow cohabitating unmarried couples to join, but that isn’t the case in most United Methodist Churches. If we care at all about outreach, we allow addicts and criminals and mean people to join. We don’t (in policy anyway) prohibit people of different ethnic backgrounds from joining, although perhaps we don’t really try hard enough to include them anyway. When it comes down to it, excluding gay people feels like a decision made out of prejudice, and fear or need for control.

When we confirm 12 and 13 year olds, or people of any age for that matter, we don’t know their hearts. We trust that God’s Prevenient Grace has brought them to this point, and pray that God’s Justifying Grace will transform them into the image of Christ. If you believe that homosexuality is a sin, telling a gay person that they can’t join church is like saying that we won’t support them in their spiritual development until they are transformed on their own. Or it is like saying that we don’t trust them to have their own relationship with God; people need to be empowered to discern God’s will for their lives, and too often we try to decide for them.

Personally, I think that if the issue of homosexuality was so important to Jesus, he would have said something about it himself. But he did say a lot about was acceptance. When we make a bunch of rules that exclude people from being part of our community of faith, we are doing exactly what Christ came to abolish. Jesus came so that we would not have to live and die by rules, but that all people would Live together through grace.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” - Galatians 4:4-7

Sunday, June 04, 2006


My office has flooded a couple of times lately, and despite my efforts to water-proof my stuff, I accidentally left a Cokesbury shopping bag full of books on the floor. Most of my books were ok, but I lost a treasured notebook which contained (among other things) my notes from last year's Challenge Course Training.

I thought about buying a new copy right away so that I would have it for camp, and because in my grief I thought, "What if I forget about it and when I have kids I don't ever get a copy to read them?" Then I realized that this is why it was such an ordeal moving out of my apartment this week. I am a pack rat... I get it from my mom who has boxes of books in the attic to read to her grandkids (and boxes of baby clothes she can't bear to hand down). I keep all sorts of things because they have memories attached to them, but I don't think about these things until I come across them when I am cleaning my room... or moving...

Like, I seriously have a napkin from the Dough Roller in a box or journal somewhere, because it reminds me of a particular trip to Ocean City I took with some friends in middle school.

I try not to acknowledge it to myself, but I keep these things because I'm afraid I'll forget memories like that. I know this is crazy. My goal for this year was to SIMPLIFY... materially, emotionally, and spiritually. After packing up my apartment, I have to admit that I have a way to go in the remaining six months. I need to stop clinging so much to stuff, and old feelings that I relive, and stories that I am afraid to forget. That way, I can follow God at a moment's notice... without having to buy so many boxes.

Maybe that's why God keeps making it rain so hard.