Dear People, As a pastor of a Reconciling Congregation I want to promise that our Sanctuary is just that. A sanctuary, safe place, refuge. But you and I know that the events of June 12th nullify the possibility of making that promise.
What I can promise is this. We will always work toward a time when we can, all of us together, know what it means to live without fear. And in the course of that work I will make my confession here and now. The church has been complicit in this act of violence. Every voice that is raised in condemnation of LGBTQIA persons is complicit in this act of violence. To be silent when so many are forced to live secret lives out of fear is to be complicit in this act of violence.
To teach, as my denomination teaches, that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching is to be complicit in this act of violence, and every other act that is offensive to you. I ask for forgiveness. And I promise that I will practice non-conformance with the language of our rules that denigrate and demonize you.
Jesus taught us that we are, all of us, Children of God, precious in God’s sight. We are, each of us wonderfully made in God’s image.
All of us.
We are commanded, not suggested, to love one another. When, out of our ignorance and sinfulness we do not live out that command we are complicit in the evil that exists in the world.
I promise that I will do all in my power to create a culture of inclusion and embrace. You are not alone. You are loved and cared for. I will be posting this letter, asking my colleagues to show their support for you and to begin the work of healing through confession and repentance.
Confession and repentance. Churchy words to be sure. Another way of saying this is to admit our participation in the hate and violence, whether through our actions or our non actions, our voices or our silence.
To admit what we are doing.
Then change direction, moving from death-dealing to life-giving.
I know some will say, “C’mon Pastor. Ease up a little. It’ll all work out.” Some will say, “You’re crazy Pastor! The Bible says…!”
I remember, just before we moved here, Sara was working in a temporary job (we knew we were moving) and a co-worker, Nelson, asked her if he could give her a Mother’s Day gift. Mother’s Day was approaching, but his request seemed a little odd. She said, “Really? Why would you want to do that?”
Nelson replied that he was a gay man, and when he came out to his parents they threw him out of the house, which is what they were taught to do by their church. He has been on his own ever since. He told Sara that she had been kind to him, helpful to him at work and said,”I don’t have a mother any more. So I wanted to give something to you.”
So I ask, “Who of you would be ok with that kind of treatment by your parents?” “Who of you would be that parent?” “Do you really think God would rejoice in that kind of action?”
I promise I will do all I can to live into the command my Lord and Savior, Jesus, gave, to love you, to advocate for your well being (which is what the word love means in the Bible).
I promise that I will love all, even my enemies. For in the end there is no such thing.
Not in God’s eyes.
In Christ’s Love, Pastor Ron Griffen