Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The One With The Geocaching

From when we first met - we. had. no clue.
A post participant in the 2013 revgalblogpals Blog Carnival:

What's the most surprising connection you've made through RevGalBlogPals?
I'd venture to say that if you know me, then you know my answer to this part of the question.

What's the most surprising or helpful thing you've learned/experienced through this galship of friends.
Back when I needed it the most, I learned that I was not alone in this vocation. Being a pastor is hard. Being a female pastor takes it up a notch. 

In this group I have experienced understanding and about as unconditional a love as one can receive aside from our Creator. I have experienced ridiculous, side-splitting laughter and I have experienced the deepest tears that most assuredly cleanse the way for true joy.

I have also experienced geocaching and was very surprised to actually like it. Admittedly on the first cruise it was an excuse to walk around in Mexico for a bit, but it ended up being so much more than that, I preached about it in a sermon base on the walk to Emmaus:

As most of you know I was away this past weekend with a group of women clergy on retreat. On our free day I decided to join another woman as she attempted to achieve her goal of becoming an international geocacher

Don’t worry. I didn’t know either.
Geocaching is basically a treasure hunt where handheld GPS systems can be used to find ‘treasures’ hidden all over the world. For instance, there is one of these treasures right on the campus of Dickinson College. So if you were interested in finding it you would look up the official geocache website, find the latitude and longitude and any clues that other geocachers may have left behind and off you would go on your adventure.

We were in Mexico, so finding a treasure there would officially make my Geek friend – and the three of us who accompanied her - international geocachers.  

And so off we went… and we went… and we went… and I had to take off my shoes due to the raging blister… and we went…. And we found. ..
Nothing.
Now, I was disappointed, but my friend was crushed.

And so we kept walking.
Past the interesting men with the weird beverages for that time of day. 
Past the military compound with different men and their very big guns.
Past where the sidewalk ends…
Enough.

My friend was ready to quit and we could tell she was very disappointed and yes, sad. So sad that even I was not teasing her for taking us on this seemingly pointless adventure. You could tell finding the treasure really meant something to her so we encouraged her, let’s keep walking.

Proof we found it!!!
And we did and we watched as she realized we were once again getting close to a treasure and with some effort on all of our parts – and a stranger’s – we made it behind a beverage establishment and found a US certified mailbox that seemed more than just a little out of place and therein lied the treasure!

This is what she wrote:
As we were walking back (to where we were staying), I recognized that Christ had been walking with me. At any point, my companions could have bailed, but they didn’t. Even when I was trying to reconcile myself to extreme disappointment, they were still looking. I opened the mailbox but (the people I was with) opened their hearts, and I knew God had been walking with us just like Jesus walked with the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).The find made me ecstatic.The “walking with” made me blessed.

Friends, there is joy and there is light… and then there is the joy and light that one experiences when they finally come out of the dark and what they are searching for is no longer a stranger.


Just. Keep. Walking.

----

Shoes still on = pre-blister.
Officially I was preaching to the congregation, but make no mistake about it, I was preaching my truth. Through Revgalblogpals I experienced rebirth and renewal... and the reminder that sometimes we have to just. keep. walking.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Can We Talk About This?

Please include me in the vast ranks of people who don't like conflict... or change. Actually, change, once it's been accomplished, is okay... if you survive the transition.

My community of faith has been working through a change in our collective understandings about what it means to be gay... and a minister called by God to proclaim the Good News. 

This has been hard work. 

There are those who angrily left. 
There are those who sadly left. 
There are those who tentatively stayed. 
There are those who adamantly stayed. 

There are many in that very first category who had other issues burning, and this was the one that gave them permission to leave. We miss them, even though in the long run it is healthier for them and the congregation for them to have moved on.

I've had conversations with some of them and those in the second category. Those in the second and third categories are hard conversations. They mean well. I mean well. I ask if it's possible for us to be the congregation that shows the community at large that it can be done; people can disagree on even the big things, but still come together to do good for an even bigger thing. They just can't do it or, they can but only if the gay issue doesn't get talked about. 

Ever.

Don't ask ,don't tell... even though when my wife is not leading worship elsewhere in her ordained calling as a United Church of Christ minister she attends worship and is on a committee and teaches a Bible study (talk about pastor's wife stereotypes!). Still, nothing should be addressed out loud.

In order to calm the waters, I've been okay with not talking about these issues: being gay and a Christian, being Called, being fearfully and wonderfully made, being married to someone who is the same gender. I've even been complicit in the silence as my own nature is to keep my private life, private; separation of personal and professional.

But have you read this post?

It is written by a mother, a woman of deep faith, whose son came out to her as gay and she handled it in the most faithful and understanding way she knew how. In her words:
"We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible, the Word of God, should say:We love you. We will always love you. And this is hard. Really hard. But we know what God says about this, so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices... 
We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is not an option."
Although these words were never specifically spoken to me, as a child of the church the message was clear - being gay was not an option for those who wanted to lead a faithful life.
End of discussion. 

But we have to talk about this because young people are being hurt by bad theology. We have to learn why it is okay to read the Scriptures that a significant segment of the religious establishment use as proof-texts and be bold enough to say: 

They. are. wrong. 

Designed by Southminster Presbyterian Church, Boise, Idaho
There are so many resources available to us that allow us deeper insight into the context of when those texts were written. There is so much accessible scholarship that encourages us to a deeper level of understanding of God's Holy Word. We cannot allow a translation from the 17th century to be waved around as "God's Truth" because although in the 21st century it is rusty and archaic, that sword remains deadly. 

I am calling out myself on using the phrase "faithfully agree to disagree." 
We just don't have that kind of time.

Mrs. Robertson continues...
"We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we -- and God -- were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to an abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards. Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture...
But nothing changed. God didn't answer his prayer, or ours, though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe, the God for whom nothing is impossible, could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not."
We are watching too many people flee our churches because we offer no sanctuary.  
We are watching as children are baptized and told they are loved no matter what... and then later on in life told about the caveats that apply.
We are watching as parents and families and children and teenagers try to do what is right in "God's" eyes forgetting that God called us specifically to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

We have to talk about this because young people like Mrs. Robertson's son are unable to find peace when they try to live a lie - that they are not gay. In Ryan's case, he turned to drugs for the fleeting peace they gave him.

We have to talk about this because as one colleague wrote in regard to this article: 
bad exegesis kills.

How do we continue the conversation?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Galship

A post participant in the 2013 revgalblogpals Blog Carnival:

What does Galship mean to you?
kj, s-l, sb
It means support.
It means side-splitting laughter.
It means 'safe place'.
It means community.

I almost didn't get on the boat for the 2008 BE. I was so broken and hurt and empty from a public and isolating divorce. I had met only a few of the revgals in person and I just knew I wasn't good for anybody. I made myself go anyway.

Here's what I wrote after we returned from that trip:

  • If you are feeling lower and lower because you are seeing yourself from someone else's point of view, then by all means switch viewpoints!
  • Just because you cannot actually see or touch people does not mean they aren't there, and that they don't care incredibly deeply for you. I was absolutely stunned by how many of the BE participants not only knew who I was and what I was going through but couldn't wait to see me to make sure I was ok. Wow.
  • People who possess the spiritual gift of 'being there' and allow you to swing wildly off center (for me that's loud, constantly talking, and 'because I'm 12' jokes) so that you can return to a healthy center, truly encompass God's grace. (April 17, 2008)
I am in a much better place now professionally and personally. Galship is the support system that helped me kick off rock bottom and get here.

Thank you revgalblogpals. Thank you.

Another quote from April 2008:
I think what we encountered was Sacred Space; a place to be where we needed to be with no judgment and plenty of mercy. Throw in the midnight buffet and I think I just described the banquet table in heaven.