Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Hospitality of Listening, part 2

Gearing up for Annual Conference and then General Conference next year as well as the pending vote on same sex marriage in this state  has ignited the discussion debate argument ? over ordaining homosexuals and same sex marriage. And the feelings which caused me to discuss the hospitality of listening the other day, well up in me again.

I listen to both sides and hear the passion on each side. Then I hear the bricks being placed to strengthen the walls. In one conversation I was reading, participants started declaring "if this gets approve, I know several people who will leave the church." And a reply, "several people have left the church because of the stand we take right now." And we swim deeper into the ocean of emotions. These comments don't open dialog but instead close them down. "If we don't act the way I believe, I am leaving." This is a door slamming to dialog, not a door opening. I am aware there are those who would say we shouldn't open the door. How thankful I am that Christ spoke to the woman caught in adultery instead of closing the door. But that is beside the point.

With the threats of people leaving and the understanding there are those who have already left, my question is: Does God abandon us when we get "it" wrong?  Who I understood God to be two decades ago and who I believe God to be today is different. I look back and think "wow, I actually believed that." I can see where I have grown in my relationship and understanding of God. Yet where I was wrong in the past in my beliefs, I was not abandoned by God. If God is a God of grace, then God needs to be able to forgive and sanctify where I am getting it wrong. And I have to believe God does the same in the work of churches and denominations. If God doesn't, God is inconsistent. And in a way, that is where the debate lies for me. What does this say about God? What does our conversation and how we treat each other say about our theology and the God we believe in?
As the churches continue to struggle with the controversial issues, how do we rely on God's grace to work in us and in those who disagree with us? How do we stay in communion with each other as God stays in communion with us? I am no where near perfection, yet I come to the Table and meet Christ there. Will that be enough for us no matter which way the conversation leads us?

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