On March 25 we will gather as a congregation to either affirm or reject the motions passed at the ELCIC National Convention this past summer regarding: Unity of the Church, Same-Gender Marriage, and Ordination of Gay and Lesbian Pastors.
I hope, and in fact I believe that we will affirm these motions removing homosexuality as a barrier to full participation in our congregational life, and here is why. I believe that, in our hearts, very few of us want to reject gay and lesbian people. Many of us have gay or lesbian friends, family members, neighbours, or co-workers and we know that nothing about sexual preference makes us different in any significant way from anyone else. The problem is that many of us have received the message that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian faith, and we want to honour our faith by the decisions we make and the lives we live.
But homosexuality is not inconsistent with Christianity, and especially not with our Lutheran expression of it for the many reasons that I outlined in our adult education classes last fall and in “A Faithful Acceptance,” which I wrote as a summary of each of those classes (available in the narthex or upon request by email).
I am hopeful and believe this motion will pass at the March 25 meeting because I believe most of us will cheerfully and enthusiastically support a motion that brings together what we know to be good and right in our hearts with our theology and practice.
But, what if the motion fails?
I have to admit that I have wondered about the value of five years of teaching and preaching among you, should this motion fail. Is my proclamation of the gospel being heard here? Should I stay if the motion fails, or should I seek a call with a congregation that more closely resembles my values and my theology?
Here is what I have concluded: If the motion fails I will not receive that as a message that I should seek a new call. Instead, I will take the rejection of the motion as a sign that I have not been clear enough with you in my proclamation of the gospel and must take a more radical approach to communicating it. And I hope that those of you who would be dejected by the failure of this motion would also stay and support this more clear and radical approach.
And if the motion passes, I will also take that as an excuse to be clearer in my proclamation of the gospel and to take an even more radical approach to communicating it. And I pray that all of us would be uplifted, empowered and energized to even more enthusiastically proclaim this gospel through the life and ministries of our congregation.
So, either way, I look forward to many years ahead of proclaiming with you a radical gospel of grace, peace, love and abundant life for all people and celebrating with you the presence of the Kingdom of God wherever it emerges in our lives and our relationships.
See you Sunday, and especially March 25.
P.S. – I’m pleased to announce that the vote passed overwhelmingly with more than 90% in favour!