Sunday, April 22, 2007
Gotta love your neighbors
This weekend I attended my annual synod assembly, and it was much like all the other synod assemblies I have attended over the years. Long, sometimes very boring, and yet a good time to connect with colleagues and for me, to meet my new colleagues in this synod. But there are some things that just never change. This synod assembly had two resolutions brought by two very conservative churches. The first? A resolution that effectively says that we as pastors cannot create same-sex blessing of union services. I was offended by this resolution - since we have a national body that decided on "living together faithfully" where there were no absolutes about what we could or could not create. I find these types of resolutions to be just mean-spirited and arrogant, but what breaks my heart is that it passed!! It was a strange experience. The first vote looked like it was defeated - the bishop stated that it was defeated, and then someone called for a vote. When the voting took place, the resolution passed. I was a bit confused by it as well, because it looked to me from my vantage point in the back that more people voted the second time to pass the resolution. I am very curious about that. The first vote was quick and not much time was spent - the second vote required us all to keep our cards in the air until we were counted - a much more time consuming process. I wonder about why some changed their votes - is there pressure to do so? Are pastors afraid of what others will think? Did pastors not want their parishioners to know - it's a small world in the Lutheran church and if people had the time to look around they would know who was voting which way. It was confusing and I have no idea what really happened. What I do know is that the writer of the resolution got to speak to it and then they had someone placed strategically to immediately call the question - there was no debate allowed in this process. I get so weary of this, and it breaks my heart for those who are ostracized by this decision - by those who are wonderful people in committed relationships and are repeatedly told by the church they are hopelessly flawed. In my opinion the church is hopelessly flawed, all of us are, and I cannot and will not ever understand why we single out one group to exert control over and rejection toward. It saddens me deeply. The second resolution presented? A call for the bishop to petition the national church to end full communion with the Episcopal Church and the Reformed churches because they believe we aren't in common confession based on statements made by the Episcopal bishop. This resolution was defeated easily - but the fact that it was even presented leaves me scratching my head and wondering what in the world is going on in my church. Oh yeah, there was one more resolution - brought by the same church. That one? To continue positive relationships with our Lutheran brothers and sisters in other Lutheran traditions. Oh yeah - the traditions that will not join in full communion with us - and absolutely exclude us!! So, after all this was over and the assembly was almost done one of my colleagues told me the church that brought all this to the floor is a church that is in both the ELCA and one of the other Lutheran bodies and has been told to choose - they cannot be both. I was really angry after hearing this - we were simply bullied by a group of ultra conservatives! So, tonight I am reflecting on what it means to love your neighbor - when your neighbor isn't very lovable, when your neighbor treats others with disdain and judgment, and when your neighbor easily casts aside people because they deem them unsuitable. I really need God's help to understand what it means to love such a neighbor - I can easily let them have their beliefs, I can easily bless their desire to live any way they would like, but I cannot easily let them push their agenda onto me and then make it policy that I am forced to live by. And yet they are my neighbor - how do I find a way to live peacefully with them?