Below are the comments I made at the Presbytery of Carlisle meeting supporting the Amendment known as 10-A. Briefly put, this amendment would replace the language currently in our Book of Order that is mainly used to exclude homosexuals from serving the church as ordained deacons, elders and pastors. In Carlisle Presbytery Amendment 10-A failed, but nationally it may pass.
I have been a Presbyterian since the babyfold room and in all stages of my growing faith – from baptism thru ordination - this debate has raged around me. Ten years ago I stood to be counted in a vote on this Presbytery floor to cease debate rather than hear even one voice for or against. I wanted this question to just go away.
Obviously the question remains and so I’ve asked myself why – forcing myself to engage with it – looking, praying, studying, questioning and praying some more.
What I have found from most is a passion and desire to be, as the Church, who God has called us all to be. To have God look upon us as Jesus did for so many and say, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”
Not your rules.
Not your law.
Outsiders and outcasts were who Jesus tended to and who the early church developed into leaders. Our standards of faith and trust in God in the 21st century should not be any less than these.
In the Gospel of Luke we witness a woman enter into the midst of Jesus and the religious leaders, break open her alabaster jar of ointment and cleanse the feet of Jesus and wash them with her hair (7:26-8:3).
This woman clearly does not belong anywhere near him. And yet Jesus receives her and in the process changes all the rules… and that can be hard for a group of his followers who really, really like rules and boundaries and decorum and tradition and quite frankly, for things to be clear. We want to know the rules so that we can get it right and know for a fact when others are getting it wrong.
If we say ‘yes’ to those who are used to hearing ‘no’ – what will our friends think, what will become of The Church? So we leave the door propped open, allowing them to be on the outskirts of the party… find their own way in… if they must. But we are sure to keep our distance.
As they reach for their alabaster jars of Call and service – full of passion for proclaiming the Truth – we keep them from the feet of Jesus deeming them unworthy. “How dare they approach. Don’t worry Jesus, we’ll protect you.”
And so I ask each and every one of us gathered in this room – what is it going to be? Do we languish in the order of the day, carefully marking what looks right and must be wrong?
Or do we dive at the feet of mercy, pouring out our love and trust; bathing in God’s faithfulness and forgiveness, not caring who else may be splashed in the process.
And if the choice is made for love and trust; for faithfulness and forgiveness…
How beautiful the jar…
How sweet the ointment…
How pure the love that will be bestowed upon us as we hear the words….
Your faith has saved you; go in peace.
Please vote yes on Amendment 10-a.