Church and our engagement in a spiritual practice hopefully produces change within us. Hopefully it draws us closer to the divine and helps us to understand our calling, our purpose and adds meaning to our life. Often this drawing closer happens through conflict which drives us deeper in our search.
This week the vote on marriage equality passed the required minimum to change the language of the book of order such that marriage is understood to be traditionally between a man and a woman but might also include other partnerships. Each church must now decide for themselves how they will understand marriage. No longer can we simply point to the book of order for clarity. We must each now do our own search, come to understand the six verses in Scripture which speak about same-sex relationships and discern God’s will. There are many who are joyful at this news and many who are fearful and who mourn the loss of what they perceived as clear consensus.
It would be so much easier if we had a literal and inerrant text but no such text exists. We are driven deeper into conversation with God and the Holy Spirit through the process of discernment. Scripture is the story of that conversation. When we are driven through the lack of simple, facile answers into a deeper, more humble conversation with God we follow in the tradition of those who have gone before. We are invited to struggle with God and argue with God, to rejoice with God and become intimate with God. We are all called to be in conversation with God; to bring our whole complex selves to this conversation, our fears, our joys, our hopes, our concerns.
We are called not only to be in conversation with the Holy Spirit but with one another. We must listen deeply to one another that we might deepen our relationships and understanding of what it means to be in community with one another. We must hear one another’s stories that we might be moved to compassion and the love of our neighbor as Christ commanded us.
This conversation must not be an isolated conversation. We are called to discern in all manners of things where God is leading us. Our resistance to doing this work and being open to the mystery of journeying with God can show up as a longing for the glory of past days, it can show up as a scapegoating of a particular issue, e.g. “if it weren’t for our position on x,y, or z, people would fill the pews!” it can show up simply as denial. It can show up as waiting for someone else to do the work in the hope that they will let us know when it’s safe to come back into the conversation. God calls us to be engaged in the conversation! We are called to show up with all our fears and doubts, all our questions and passions. We are called to dive deeper into conversation with God and one another, to struggle humbly and honestly.
We are called to be a people of hope, joy, and love which suggests we must reject fear and resistance. We are called to discern, each and every one of us as well as together as a church, where God is leading us that we might follow in faith. We must be willing to mourn the beautiful dreams that we have discovered will not be fulfilled that we might dream new dreams, inspired, holy dreams. We must let go of our expectations and all of our ‘should’s,” and “must’s,” so that we can hear and see where God is leading us.
Our certainty has been pulled from us. We are driven deeper, into a meaningful conversation with one another and with God. Let there be no easy, facile answers, but instead a deep and intense conversation, an intimate and life-changing relationship! Let us commit to hearing one another fully and to learning, each and every one of us, how deep and wide, how bottomless and beyond understanding, is God’s love.