Friday, May 02, 2008

Weeping May Come...

Weeping may come, but joy comes in the morning...

This morning as I awoke, these words from Scripture ran through my mind as I wondered if that dawn of joy would ever come. Yesterday our United Methodist Church passed legislation that further strengthened the discriminatory policies of the Church against gay and lesbian persons through both a revision of our statement on human sexuality and a vote on membership.

Rejecting a petition that sought to acknowledge our differences concerning the issue of homosexuality, the Church chose to ignore the very real and pressing divisions within the denomination and instead revised our statement on human sexuality to both strengthen the condemnatory language toward gay and lesbian persons and remove significant statements on the complexity of sexuality, sexual abuse in marriage, and age appropriate sex education for children and teens. In addition, the General Conference reaffirmed controversial Judicial Council Decision 1032 which supported the right of a pastor to deny membership to a man on the basis of his sexuality by refusing to pass legislation which would have clarified the role of the pastor in accepting members.

At the end of the votes, advocates for full inclusion stood, singing "Jesus Loves Me," in affirmation of God's love for all despite the actions of the Church. The sobs and moans of those in pain echoed in the halls as people grieved the brokenness of of Church body. In the midst of the pain, it all seemed overwhelming. How could our episcopal leadership allow such grievous breach of the rules that silenced debate and manipulated the votes? How could our Church turn the clock 50 years back on our statement of human sexuality? How could our Church vote us out so callously?

Gay and lesbian people were not the only people who loss this day. Rather, it was the Church that loss as it was broken by the tactics of fear and division. As Don Messer has said,

“The exclusion of homosexual persons from the life, leadership, and rites of the Church threatens the very nature of the Church itself. It not only causes irreparable harm to the children of God but also to the Body of Christ itself. Each time a person is rejected or ejected from the koinoniafellowship of United Methodism, a new wound is inflicted and the Body of Christ is broken once again.”

This morning the brokenness of the Body was incarnated as delegates walked past, lesbian, bisexual ,transgender and straight persons who literally laid their bodies down in an effort to remind the Church of the wounds it inflicted...wounds that went unnoticed as the conference continued "business as usual."

But, it was not business as usual. Faithful advocates for full inclusion were invited into the General Conference floor to witness to the pain and brokenness that is our Church Body in a liturgical ritual of lament. Shrouding the communion table and singing "Were You There," the Church was reminded of the way in which the Body of Christ had been broken through a breach in holy conferencing and the exclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight persons. Delegates and advocates alike wept as they moved forward to place a black cloth on the altar in solidarity with those the Church harms.

Weeping may come....but joy comes in the morning.

While the ritual was one of morning, a new proclamation broke forth from the depths of pain claiming a resurrection within the Church of faithful disciples willing to be in full ministry with all God's children. To see this demonstration, click here.

As I finally find my way to sleep after these two exhausting days, I know that joy shall come in the morning. Watch our blog for updates...

1 comment:

Michele Naughton said...

Beautiful post, Tiffany. Thank you. Will and Tiffany both made mention of us singing 'Jesus Loves Me'. I wanted to let those who are not here with us to know that the first time we started singing, after the minority report of 161G passed, the song came from the floor. One of the delegates started to sing 'Jesus Loves Me' and we caught on. It was a powerful statement for me.