Editor’s note: The title of this blog comes from my friend Rachel who commented on my Facebook status about the UMC’s vote that I just have to keep sawing the table legs knowing that one day the UMC powers that be will understand that Jesus meant for no one to sit above anyone else at the table…even if that means we’re all eating on the floor.
An open letter to the powers that be at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference 2012:
I learned on Saturday that the Church and Society committee voted to keep the “homosexuality is incomparable with Christian teaching” clause in our Book of Discipline.
I spent the rest of the day somewhat sad and discouraged, obviously I would have hoped the vote would have gone differently. 41 to keep it and just 34 to remove it? Come on, that’s not even close. And in 2012 too.
But by Sunday evening at about 8pm I was over it. The vote is what it is. Want to know how I got over it?
I went to church.
Not in the way you’re thinking though. Our morning service was good and Pastor Kelly’s sermon on the gospel according to Cesear…Milan was on point, but I’m talking about the evening service that took place.
See, North Carolina is voting on a state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the only relationship that would count for anything. The writers went after the gay folks in the state but made it so broad that they are willing to take down all the non-married opposite-gender couples with them.
About two weeks ago, Pastor Kelly offered up Green Street as a place to have an interfaith service opposing the Amendment…and It.Was.Awesome.
With over 300 people in attendance from various Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist and agnostic traditions in attendance, we spent an hour ruminating on God’s love and justice for everyone.
Rabbi Josh Brown from Temple Emmanuel in Winston-Salem spoke about not representing the people of the book, the Jewish people, but rather the people in the book.
In my bible I read Genesis 9:16 – ‘When the rainbow is in the clouds I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between ALL flesh that is on earth.’ That, is my Bible.
I take offense to those who believe that their Bible is wiser than my Bible. There are people in this book. People who loved men. People who loved women. People who loved justice. People who loved God. And I read about them. In fact, I base my love for my family and my fellow human being upon them.
In that moment, as in most moments I spend in my church and neighborhood communities, I realized (over and over) that who I am so not incompatible with Christian teaching it’s not even funny. You can spend the next four years arguing over whether to remove that phrase from the BOD or not, that’s up to you. Just understand that we as gays and lesbians and straight folks together, at least in the Winston-Salem area, are past that.
We will continue to live in the way God calls us, working toward justice for all people, because we understand that our freedom is tied into everyone else’s…especially as it relates to our upcoming amendment which would seek to deny rights to anyone who is not legally married.
Rev. Rene Griffin, the pastor at Wentz Memorial UCC, quoted singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman last night when she said
We’re talkin’ about a revolution/And it sounds like a whisper.
So it is for the Methodist Church. Change is coming, but it’s coming from the inside out. I suspect eventually so many congregations will be ignoring the “incompatible with Christian teaching” phrase in word and in action (as far as they can get away with it), worshiping and living in community as though it doesn’t exist, that the phrase will be removed without incident.
In four years or 14, that phrase is going away. It’s really just a matter of how soon you pay attention to the work of love and justice that God is actually calling the UMC to do – and start doing it.
Me, I’ll just keep sawing at the table legs.