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?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Another snow storm

Another snow storm for St. Cloud today - and west of us, so I didn't drive to Paynesville for work. That's okay - this is Holy Week and the end of the week will be so busy that I'll easily make up the hours. It's a dark, overcast day that's good for staying in and maybe even taking a nap! I talked to my daughter today and she's just 45 minutes south of me, but they aren't getting any snow. Weather patterns are interesting! This morning we had a television repair man out for an appointment we had made last week. He came from the west and said the roads were terrible. It's interesting, because when I was younger, and even until about five years ago, I would have gone out and driven to work. I felt it was so important that I be there. Now, with a little age and wisdom, I realize what's most important is safety. I trust my driving, but not everyone else's! And so, I rearranged a church meeting tonight so that no one has to be out and driving. It seems to me to be sensible to reschedule things instead of risking accidents and injuries. I wonder about why I didn't reach this place sooner - where wisdom rules over an overactive sense of responsibility to follow through with things planned. Nothing is hurt by making a change. Nobody suffers, and in fact, everybody has the freedom to stay put in a warm, dry home. I used to think that older folks were just silly and cautious - and now I feel humbled by the fact that they really were just wiser. Maybe there is hope for me to live a life of wisdom yet!!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Palm Sunday

Some of the familiar stories from Scripture are included in Palm Sunday. Today we did a dramatic reading from the gospel of Luke. I was the narrator, so the teller of the story. My colleague was Jesus, and some folks from the parish were Pilate, Peter, theives, etc. What was a bit of a surprise to me was the emotion I felt as we read through this story. No preaching, just reading (re-telling) the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem, then on through the Passover, the trial, and his death. I have struggled over the years with who Jesus is - savior, sage, wisdom? But even in the midst of those struggles, there has always been something that has drawn me to Jesus. Maybe it's the radical acceptance of those most unacceptable in the society of his time. Maybe it's the way he spoke with integrity and honesty when challenged by the powers of his time. Surely, his healing and power that is apparent in scripture. As I think of Thomas needing to see Jesus' hands and feel his scars to believe, I think I have some of Thomas in me. I don't know that I'll ever answer all my questions about Jesus and who he really is, but in the radical acceptance that Christ meets Thomas - I believe he meets me. And so I ponder all these things in my heart as I go through my days. I know that I feel very grounded and connected in God's love and that Christ is an integral part of that grounding.